From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Groundwork \Ground"work`\ (ground"w[^u]rk`), n.
   That which forms the foundation or support of anything; the
   basis; the essential or fundamental part; first principle;
   as, development of a convenient DNA sequencing technique
   layed the groundwork for many of the subsequent advances in
   molecular genetics. --Dryden.
   [1913 Webster +PJC]
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