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

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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 The books that made sense to me at the time were those that questioned the primacy of the heteronormative family. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "Meghan Daum to Millennials: Get off My Lawn," 1 Nov. 2019 Yet the Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation challenged the primacy of shareholders, adding them to a broader list of stakeholders that includes employees, suppliers, and the public itself. Donnovan Andrews, Fortune, "5 Ways Companies Can Show Their Commitment to Improving the World," 24 Sep. 2019 That’s a difficult challenge, especially during a modern age where the primacy of the individual has subverted the pursuit of the common good. Cynthia M. Allen, Twin Cities, "Cynthia M. Allen: Let’s all agree that America is more than ‘just OK’," 11 July 2019 Modi and his party won a stunning reelection victory in May that critics and supporters say has paved the way for the BJP to implement an agenda that emphasizes Hindu primacy in India. Niha Masih, Washington Post, "A crackdown in India on suspected illegal immigrants could leave millions stateless," 26 Aug. 2019 Shareholder primacy also has a serious demographics issue. Miguel Padró, Quartz at Work, "If we want our corporate leaders held accountable, we must let other stakeholders in," 26 Aug. 2019 But according to Redman, this was justified through an assumed primacy of western science over the concerns of indigenous populations and their cultural practices. Oscar Schwartz, WIRED, "There’s a Thriving Market for Human Body Parts on Instagram," 21 Aug. 2019 For decades, America’s most influential businesses have held the primacy of shareholders above all other values. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "A Cryptocurrency Custody Battle Is A-Brewing—The Ledger," 19 Aug. 2019 Plus, no network will have the primacy ESPN boasted at its peak. Jacob Feldman,, "What's Next for Bob Ley—and ESPN—After His Illustrious 40-Year Career?," 27 June 2019

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

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Time Traveler for primacy

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

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Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Primacy.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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How to pronounce primacy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of primacy

formal : the state of being most important or strongest

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Britannica English: Translation of primacy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on primacy

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


very cautious or careful

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