Definitions

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

  • adj. Being first in time; original; primeval.
  • adj. Of first importance; primary.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Being the first in time, or history.
  • adj. Being of greatest importance; primary.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. First; primary; original; chief.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Primary; first in time, order, or importance; original; primitive.
  • [capitalized] In geology, the earliest of H. D. Rogers's divisions of the Paleozoic series of Pennsylvania, equivalent to the Potsdam sandstone of the New York Survey.
  • In natural history, specifically, of or pertaining to the kingdom Primalia.

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

  • adj. serving as an essential component
  • adj. having existed from the beginning; in an earliest or original stage or state

Etymologies

Medieval Latin prīmālis, from Latin prīmus, first; see per1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin primalis, from primus, first. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I like using the term primal scream in advocating the end of homelessness, because it instills a sense of desperation in an economic system that is sadly spewing out homelessness in cities around the world.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • But here we may be questioned about these numbers which we describe as the primal and authentic:

    The Six Enneads.

  • There's a mental picture for you - Ahmadinejad in primal scream therapy with Lindsay Lohan. paschendale191 …

    More Elections - Swampland - TIME.com

  • Humans have twin primal urges: to fear change for themselves yet want it for others.

    USATODAY.com - The more things change in sports, do things stay same?

  • She could comprehend certain primal and analogous characteristics in a hungry wolf-dog or a starving man, and predicate lines of action to be pursued by either under like conditions.

    The Scorn of Women

  • She hadn't told me any of that, but apparently, my intuition was spot on because at that point Joanne curled up in a ball and started sobbing uncontrollably and nearly dry heaving in what I can best describe as primal agony.

    Mark Goulston, M.D.: Is Daddy An A-Hole?

  • So that when we come to look at liberalism in a critical spirit, we have to expect that there will be a discrepancy between what I have called the primal imagination of liberalism and its present particular imagination.

    Principles of Literary Criticism

  • In the last years, the death of argument within the Republican Party -- the attempted enforcement of orthodoxy, defined as a primal form of loyalty to presidential will -- has cost it and the country dearly.

    Robert F. Bauer: Richard Rorty and the Riches of Progressive Argument

  • This poetic rumination draws a more nuanced conception of women's rights into an idea that might be described as the primal theme of Godard's 60s work: the mutual destruction that exists between men and women, especially in love.

    Numéro Deux

  • Perhaps the pain of clowns is a little more primal, which is one good reason for people who work in comedy to give clowns a pass.

    Archive 2007-10-01

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