Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not derived from something else; primary or basic.
  • adj. Of or relating to an earliest or original stage or state; primeval.
  • adj. Being little evolved from an early ancestral type.
  • adj. Characterized by simplicity or crudity; unsophisticated: primitive weapons. See Synonyms at rude.
  • adj. Anthropology Of or relating to a nonindustrial, often tribal culture, especially one that is characterized by a low level of economic complexity: primitive societies.
  • adj. Linguistics Serving as the basis for derived or inflected forms: Pick is the primitive word from which picket is derived.
  • adj. Linguistics Being a protolanguage: primitive Germanic.
  • adj. Relating or belonging to forces of nature; elemental: primitive passions.
  • adj. Of or created by an artist without formal training; simple or naive in style.
  • adj. Of or relating to the work of an artist from a nonindustrial, often tribal culture, especially a culture that is characterized by a low level of economic complexity.
  • adj. Of or relating to late medieval or pre-Renaissance European painters or sculptors.
  • adj. Biology Occurring in or characteristic of an early stage of development or evolution.
  • n. Anthropology A person belonging to a nonindustrial, often tribal society, especially a society characterized by a low level of economic complexity.
  • n. An unsophisticated person.
  • n. One that is at a low or early stage of development.
  • n. One belonging to an early stage in the development of an artistic trend, especially a painter of the pre-Renaissance period.
  • n. An artist having or affecting a simple, direct, unschooled style, as of painting.
  • n. A self-taught artist.
  • n. A work of art created by a primitive artist.
  • n. Linguistics A word or word element from which another word is derived by morphological or historical processes or from which inflected forms are derived.
  • n. Linguistics A basic and indivisible unit of linguistic analysis. Also called prime.
  • n. Mathematics An algebraic or geometric expression from which another expression is derived.
  • n. Computer Science A basic or fundamental unit of machine instruction or translation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An original or primary word; a word not derived from another, as opposed to derivative.
  • n. A member of a primitive society.
  • n. A simple-minded person.
  • n. A data type that is built into the programming language, as opposed to more complex structures.
  • n. A basic geometric shape from which more complex shapes can be constructed.
  • n. A function whose derivative is a given function; an antiderivative.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the beginning or origin, or to early times; original; primordial; primeval; first.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a former time; old-fashioned; characterized by simplicity.
  • adj. this sense?) Crude, obsolete.
  • adj. Original; primary; radical; not derived.
  • adj. Occurring in or characteristic of an early stage of development or evolution.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the beginning or origin, or to early times; original; primordial; primeval; first
  • adj. Of or pertaining to a former time; old-fashioned; characterized by simplicity.
  • adj. Original; primary; radical; not derived.
  • n. An original or primary word; a word not derived from another; -- opposed to derivative.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to the beginning or origin; original; especially, having something else of the same kind derived from it, but not itself derived from anything of the same kind; first: as, the primitive church; the primitive speech.
  • Characterized by the simplicity of old times; old-fashioned; plain or rude: as, a primitive style of dress.
  • In grammar, noting a word as related to another that is derived from it; noting that word from which a derivative is made, whether itself demonstrably derivative or not.
  • In biology: rudimentary; inceptive; primordial; beginning to take form or acquire recognizable existence: applicable to any part, organ, or structure in the first or a very early stage of its formation: as, the primitive cerebral vesicles (the rudiment of the brain, out of which the whole brain is to be formed). See cut at protovertebra.
  • Primary or first of its kind; temporary and soon to disappear: opposed to definitive: as, the primitive aorta.
  • In botany, noting specific types, in opposition to forms resulting from hybridization.
  • In geology, of the earliest or supposed earliest formation: in the early history of geology noting the older crystalline rocks of which the age and stratigraphical relations were uncertain, and the fossils (where these had once been present) either entirely obliterated or rendered so indistinct by metamorphism of the strata in which they were embedded that their determination was a matter of doubt.
  • a number whose pth power diminished by unity is the lowest power of it divisible by p.
  • a number which satisfies the congruence x l (mod p) and no similar congruence of lower degree.
  • Synonyms and Pristine, etc. See primary.
  • n. An original or primary word; a word from which another is derived: opposed to derivative.
  • n. An early Christian.
  • n. In mathematics, a geometrical or algebraic form from which another is derived, especially an algebraic expression of which another is the derivative; an equation which satisfies a differential equation, or equation of differences, of which it is said to be the primitive (if it has the requisite number of arbitrary constants to form the solution of the differential equation, it is called the complete primitive: see complete); a curve of which another is the polar or reciprocal, etc.
  • In the history of art, belonging to an early and not fully developed period.
  • In group-theory, not imprimitive.
  • n. [capitalized] In the fine arts, a craftsman or artist who belongs to an early or under-developed period; especially, in the history of European painting, those painters of Italy, Flanders, Germany, and France who flourished in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, at the close of the medieval period and the beginning of the Renaissance. See painting, 1.
  • n. A work of art produced by one of the primitives.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who belongs to an early stage of civilization
  • n. a mathematical expression from which another expression is derived
  • n. a word serving as the basis for inflected or derived forms
  • adj. of or created by one without formal training; simple or naive in style
  • adj. used of preliterate or tribal or nonindustrial societies
  • adj. little evolved from or characteristic of an earlier ancestral type
  • adj. belonging to an early stage of technical development; characterized by simplicity and (often) crudeness

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French primitif, primitive, from Latin prīmitīvus, from prīmitus, at first, from prīmus, first.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French primitif, from Latin primitivus ("first or earliest of its kind"), from primus ("first"); see prime. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The second operation which forms new primitive recursive functions from initial primitive recursive functions is called ˜primitive recursion™ and is formally defined as follows:

    Recursive Functions

  • It is primitive, _but not consistently primitive_.

    The New World of Islam

  • The village was a place of stereotypes brought to life, where the word primitive bubbled to the lips.

    Spellbound

  • While evolution does not have a pre-ordained directionality, cladistically the term primitive has meaning. mplavcan replied to comment from RBH

    Australopithecus sediba and the creationist response - The Panda's Thumb

  • Having spent the last two years building the space and embracing naïveté and improvisation - letting the design of the tables "go where the wood wants to go," for example - Somer has coined the term "primitive modernism" to describe the restaurant's generally rustic look.

    NYT > Home Page

  • To establish the first, Hoover showed samples from meteorites of forms that appeared to have cells and cell walls, that were in the process of splitting or otherwise reproducing, that were attached to the rock with what he identified as a primitive stalk called a basal heterocyst, and that had lived in what appeared to be colonies of microbes known to coexist on Earth.

    First Contact

  • William Penn, son of a vice-admiral, resolved to go and establish what he called the primitive Church on the shores of

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • I know you don't appreciate what you call the primitive poetics of my manner of expression, but I must tell you that for longer than I care to remember this place has been my home; and when a comet sings, I think of my love for you.

    An East Wind Coming

  • Go back as far as we like, and, Aristotle thinks, we still find certain primitive differences which constitute what we call the primitive elements.

    Progress and History

  • After her second divorce in the late 1960s, she moved to New York, became a ballroom dance instructor and began indulging a passion for what she called "primitive cultures," traveling to Mali and other exotic destinations in search of the woodcarvings and fabrics from which she made her eye-catching designs.

    NYT > Home Page

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Comments

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  • New Guinea was a primitive island.

    March 14, 2007