el·​e·​men·​ta·​ry | \ˌe-lə-ˈmen-tə-rē, -ˈmen-trē\

Definition of elementary 

1a : of, relating to, or dealing with the simplest elements or principles of something

b : of or relating to an elementary school

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from elementary

elementarily \ ˌe-​lə-​ˌmen-​ˈter-​ə-​lē , -​ˈmen-​trə-​lē \ adverb
elementariness \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈmen-​tə-​rē-​nəs , -​ˈmen-​trē-​ \ noun

Examples of elementary in a Sentence

He is lacking even the most elementary notions of fairness. The researchers made an elementary error. He has an elementary understanding of calculus.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

With Career Connect Washington, students will begin learning about careers in elementary or middle school, prepare for those careers in high school and continue their training after graduation. Katherine Long, The Seattle Times, "Washington voters don’t think schools prepare kids for careers. The state is trying to change that.," 31 Oct. 2018 In some elementary and high school districts in the area, ISBE data shows that as much as a fourth to one-third, or more, of students enrolled come from low-income households. Alex Nitkin, chicagotribune.com, "Summer meal programs open as school year comes to end in north suburbs," 7 June 2018 But new projects aside, what truly stokes Hill’s creative passion is sharing the magic of music with elementary and high school students. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Judith Hill Invites Everyone to 'The Pepper Club': Video Premiere," 18 May 2018 About $8,700 was awarded to elementary and high school classrooms and projects. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Imagine A Day Foundation announces grants for Oconomowoc area schools," 30 Apr. 2018 The Washington Post says since Columbine in 1999, that’s how many elementary and high school students have experienced a shooting on their campus during school hours. Fox News, "March for Our Lives organizers send message to Congress," 25 Mar. 2018 Escondido’s elementary and high school districts, along with Vista Unified School District, have adopted the plan and started training staff. Deborah Sullivan Brennan, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Fighting back against school shootings: Students taught to 'run, hide, fight'," 25 Mar. 2018 Those chafing at the pace include the California School Boards Association, which wants quicker sales of $7 billion on bonds for construction projects at elementary and high schools and $2 billion for community colleges. Romy Varghese, Bloomberg.com, "California's $83 Billion of Bond Debt Isn't Enough for Some," 6 Mar. 2018 His various roles include stints as an elementary and high school principal and transportation director. Littice Bacon-blood, NOLA.com, "2 apply for Jefferson Parish schools superintendent job; interim appointed," 23 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elementary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of elementary

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about elementary

Share elementary

Statistics for elementary

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elementary

The first known use of elementary was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for elementary



English Language Learners Definition of elementary

: basic and simple : involving the simplest parts of a subject

: of or relating to elementary school


el·​e·​men·​ta·​ry | \ˌe-lə-ˈmen-tə-rē, -ˈmen-trē\

Kids Definition of elementary

1 : relating to the beginnings or simplest principles of a subject elementary arithmetic

2 : relating to or teaching the basic subjects of education elementary school

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on elementary

What made you want to look up elementary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!