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

  • adj. First or highest in rank, quality, or importance; principal.
  • adj. Being or standing first in a list, series, or sequence.
  • adj. Occurring first in time or sequence; earliest.
  • adj. Being or existing as the first or earliest of a kind; primitive.
  • adj. Geology Characteristic of or existing in a rock at the time of its formation.
  • adj. Serving as or being an essential component, as of a system; basic. See Synonyms at chief.
  • adj. Immediate; direct: a primary effect; a primary information source.
  • adj. Preliminary to a later stage in a continuing process: primary training.
  • adj. Of or relating to a primary school: the primary grades.
  • adj. Of or relating to a primary color or colors.
  • adj. Linguistics Having a word root or other linguistic element as a basis that cannot be further analyzed or broken down. Used of the derivation of a word or word element.
  • adj. Linguistics Referring to present or future time. Used as a collective designation for various present and future verb tenses in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit.
  • adj. Electronics Of, relating to, or constituting an inducting current, circuit, or coil.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or designating the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of a bird's wing.
  • adj. Of or relating to agriculture, forestry, the industries that extract natural materials from the earth, or the products so obtained: a primary commodity.
  • adj. Chemistry Relating to the replacement of one of several atoms or radicals in a compound by another atom or radical.
  • adj. Chemistry Having a carbon atom attached solely to one other carbon atom in a molecule.
  • adj. Botany Of, relating to, or derived from a primary meristem.
  • n. One that is first in time, order, or sequence.
  • n. One that is first or best in degree, quality, or importance.
  • n. One that is fundamental, basic, or elemental.
  • n. A meeting of the registered voters of a political party for the purpose of nominating candidates and for choosing delegates to their party convention.
  • n. A preliminary election in which the registered voters of a political party nominate candidates for office.
  • n. A primary color.
  • n. A primary flight feather.
  • n. Electronics An inducting current, circuit, or coil.
  • n. Astronomy A celestial body, especially a star, relative to other bodies in orbit around it.
  • n. Astronomy The brighter of two stars that make up a double star.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. The first in a group or series.
  • adj. That which is placed ahead of others.
  • n. A primary election; a preliminary election to select a political candidate of a political party.
  • n. The first year of grade school.
  • n. A base or fundamental component; something that is irreducible.
  • n. The most massive component of a gravitationally bound system.
  • n. A primary school.
  • n. Any flight feather attached to the manus (hand) of a bird.
  • n. A primary colour.
  • n. A directly driven inductive coil, as in a transformer or induction motor that is magnetically coupled to a secondary
  • v. To take part in a primary election

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. First in order of time or development or in intention; primitive; fundamental; original.
  • adj. First in order, as being preparatory to something higher
  • adj. First in dignity or importance; chief; principal; ; a matter of primary importance.
  • adj. Earliest formed; fundamental.
  • adj. Illustrating, possessing, or characterized by, some quality or property in the first degree; having undergone the first stage of substitution or replacement.
  • n. That which stands first in order, rank, or importance; a chief matter.
  • n. A primary meeting; a caucus.
  • n. One of the large feathers on the distal joint of a bird's wing. See Plumage, and Illust. of Bird.
  • n. A primary planet; the brighter component of a double star. See under Planet.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • First or highest in rank, dignity, or importance; chief; principal.
  • First in order of being, of thought, or of time; original; primitive; first.
  • First or lowest in order of growth or development; elementary; preparatory.
  • First in use or intention; radical; original: as, the primary sense of a word.
  • In ornithology, of the first rank or order among the flight-feathers or remiges of the wing; situated upon the manus or pinion-bone, as a feather: correlated with secondary and tertiary or tertial. See II.
  • In geology, lowest in the sequence of geological formations: said of rocks.
  • n. That which stands first or highest in rank or importance, as opposed to secondary; that to which something else is subordinate.
  • n. In ornithology, one of the remiges, flight-feathers, or large quills which are situated upon the manus. pinion-bone, or distal segment of the wing.
  • n. In entomology, one of the anterior or fore wings: used especially in descriptions of the Lepidoptera. See cut under Cirrophanus.
  • n. In United States politics, a meeting of voters belonging to the same political party in a ward, township, or other election district, held for the purpose of nominating candidates for office, choosing delegates to a convention, etc.
  • n. A planet in relation to its satellite or satellites: as, the earth is the primary of the moon.
  • The body of the bark which lies between the epidermis and stele (central cylinder) in the stems of phanerogams, as also the corresponding zone in the root. In this sense sometimes simply cortex. Strasburger.
  • n. In electricity: In an alternating-current transformer, induction-motor, or other apparatus containing two circuits in inductive relation to one another, that circuit which receives power from the impressed electromotive force.
  • n. Sometimes, in an alternating-current transformer, the high potential coil, the low potential coil being the secondary.
  • n. In physiological optics, one of the primary colors or primary color-sensations.
  • n. A lesion of the initial stage of syphilis, a chancre: usually in the plural.
  • n. In Echinodermata: In echinoids, a plate which extends from the outer edge of an ambulacral area to the median suture of that area.
  • n. In echinoids, a spine of the largest order extending beyond the shorter secondaries.
  • n. In crinoids, according to Bather's terminology, any one of those plates which are first developed in the ontogeny and phylogeny, including the abactinal system of columnals, cirrals, infrabasals, basals, radials, brachials, pinnulars, and the actinal system of orals and ambulacrals.
  • n. In the Echinoidea, one of the large and completely developed tubercles on the surface of the test, which serve as articulating bases for the spines.

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

  • n. one of the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of a bird's wing
  • adj. of first rank or importance or value; direct and immediate rather than secondary
  • adj. most important element
  • n. (astronomy) a celestial body (especially a star) relative to other objects in orbit around it
  • adj. not derived from or reducible to something else; basic
  • n. coil forming the part of an electrical circuit such that changing current in it induces a current in a neighboring circuit
  • n. a preliminary election where delegates or nominees are chosen
  • adj. of or being the essential or basic part
  • adj. of primary importance


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

Middle English, from Latin prīmārius, chief, from prīmus, first; see per1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the Latin prīmārius ("of the first”, “of the first rank”, “chief”, “principal”, “excellent"), from prīmus (“first”; whence the English adjective prime) + -ārius (whence the English suffix -ary); compare the French primaire, primer, and premier.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.