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

  • n. A fundamental element, principle, or skill, as of a field of learning. Often used in the plural.
  • n. Something in an incipient or undeveloped form. Often used in the plural: the rudiments of social behavior in children; the rudiments of a plan of action.
  • n. Biology An imperfectly or incompletely developed organ or part.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fundamental principle or skill, especially in a field of learning (often in the plural).
  • n. Something in an undeveloped form (often in the plural)
  • n. A body part that no longer has a function
  • n. In percussion, one of a selection of basic drum patterns learned as an exercise.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which is unformed or undeveloped; the principle which lies at the bottom of any development; an unfinished beginning.
  • n. Hence, an element or first principle of any art or science; a beginning of any knowledge; a first step.
  • n. An imperfect organ or part, or one which is never developed.
  • transitive v. To furnish with first principles or rules; to insrtuct in the rudiments.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Anything which is in an undeveloped state; the principle which lies at the beginning or bottom of any development; an unformed or unfinished beginning.
  • n. An element or first principle of any art or science; especially, in the plural, the beginning, first steps, or introduction to any branch of knowledge; the elements or elementary notions.
  • n. In biology: That which is rudimentary; that which is in its first or an early stage of development, which may or may not be continued; the beginning or foundation of any part or organ: as, the rudiment of the embryo which is to go on to maturity; the rudiment of an organ whose further development has been arrested or aborted
  • n. That which is vestigial; a vestigial or aborted part, organ, or structure; an abortion; a vestige.
  • To furnish with first principles or rules; ground; settle in first principles.

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

  • n. the remains of a body part that was functional at an earlier stage of life
  • n. the elementary stages of any subject (usually plural)


Latin rudīmentum, from rudis, rough, unformed.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French, from Latin rudimentum ("a first attempt, a beginning"), plural rudimenta ("the elements"), from rudis ("rude"); see rude. (Wiktionary)



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