pri·​ma·​cy ˈprī-mə-sē How to pronounce primacy (audio)
: the state of being first (as in importance, order, or rank) : preeminence
the primacy of intellectual and esthetic over materialistic valuesT. R. McConnell
: the office, rank, or preeminence of an ecclesiastical primate

Example Sentences

Civil law took primacy over religious law. She has established primacy in her field of study.
Recent Examples on the Web Trending Viewed together, these works carry a distinctly childlike sense of play, accompanied by a kind of urgent primacy. Keegan Brady, Rolling Stone, 27 May 2023 Lawmakers lambasted TikTok’s chief executive about the platform’s ties to China in a roughly five-hour hearing on Thursday, punctuating how the viral video app has become a central battleground as the United States and China tussle for political, technological and economic primacy. Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times, 23 Mar. 2023 His emphasis on fundamental Christian values and the primacy of the Catholic Church also led to friction with Muslims and the first major crisis of his papacy. Henry Chudeputy News Editor, Los Angeles Times, 31 Dec. 2022 And then there are those who want to sort of fall back on shareholder primacy and talk about the imperative of driving returns. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 14 Dec. 2022 And the not-a-Nobel award’s emphasis on the primacy of the free market has been damaging at times. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 10 Oct. 2022 Chinese investments span the globe, and Beijing is pushing for primacy in crucial technologies. Michael Beckley, WSJ, 4 Aug. 2022 Agatha Christie, as the world’s best-selling novelist, has a primacy in these regards and a kind of IP that is super strong. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Apr. 2023 Such a set of principles can provide both a focal point for a new norm that reflects the original assumptions of shareholder primacy, and the insights of stakeholder capitalism, as well as a starting point for more constructive reasoning about specific issues. Maureen Kline, Fortune, 24 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'primacy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near primacy

Cite this Entry

“Primacy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


pri·​ma·​cy ˈprī-mə-sē How to pronounce primacy (audio)
plural primacies
: the state of being first (as in time, place, or rank)
: the office or dignity of a bishop of the highest rank

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