pri·​ma·​cy | \ ˈprī-mə-sē How to pronounce primacy (audio) \

Definition of primacy

1 : the state of being first (as in importance, order, or rank) : preeminence the primacy of intellectual and esthetic over materialistic values— T. R. McConnell
2 : the office, rank, or preeminence of an ecclesiastical primate

Examples of primacy in a Sentence

Civil law took primacy over religious law. She has established primacy in her field of study.
Recent Examples on the Web Its ambitious goal is to dethrone shareholder primacy and profit maximization as defining features of capitalism. Nick Romeo, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner wrote in response to follow-up questions that state primacy over Section 404 permitting will produce faster decisions on permits that could make development projects more feasible. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Jan. 2022 That primacy hit the wall during the last year and a half. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, 6 Nov. 2021 The crisis exposes the deep, dangerous, and often unrecognized weaknesses in the Chinese economy that could derail its advance and, with it, Beijing’s quest to challenge American primacy on the world stage. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 11 Oct. 2021 In the German case, unlike the Polish one, however, there was no explicit challenge of primacy of European law. New York Times, 7 Oct. 2021 Each version of the document issued since 1997 has endorsed principles of shareholder primacy – that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 24 Apr. 2021 Repeatedly, lawmakers and law enforcers have justified the primacy of fetal rights to restrict bodily autonomy and enforce separate, distinct laws over the bodies and decisions of pregnant people—especially pregnant people of color. Scientific American, 8 Dec. 2021 With few exceptions—among them, a piece by Wesley Morris, a masterly stylist—the voices of the individual writers are unrecognizable, hewn to flatness by the primacy of the Project’s thesis. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 8 Dec. 2021

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

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First Known Use of primacy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primacy

Middle English primacie, borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Medieval Latin prīmātia "office of a primate," from prīmāt-, prīmās "leading bishop in an ecclesiastical province, primate" + Latin -ia -y entry 2

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

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Dictionary Entries Near primacy

prima ballerina


prima donna

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Primacy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of primacy

: the state of being most important or strongest

More from Merriam-Webster on primacy

Britannica English: Translation of primacy for Arabic Speakers


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