Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
1) The questioning of a witness by an attorney (or other party if the other party is self-represented). Direct examination is interrogation by the attorney who called the witness, and cross-examination is questioning by the opposing attorney. 2) In bankruptcy, the questions asked of a debtor by the judge, trustee in bankruptcy, attorneys, or creditors, to determine the state of the debtor's affairs.
3) In criminal law, a preliminary examination is a hearing to determine whether a defendant charged with a felony should be held for trial.