pri·​mal | \ ˈprī-məl How to pronounce primal (audio) \

Definition of primal

1 : original, primitive village life continued in its primal innocence— Van Wyck Brooks
2 : first in importance : primary

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of primal in a Sentence

the primal theme of the essay is toleration of religious diversity there was a period of primal idealism after the founding of the republic and before the rise of partisan politics
Recent Examples on the Web In this moment of desperation, a primal instinct takes over, pushing her toward the mountains abutting the Shoshone National Forest. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Woman finds salvation from wilderness in Robin Wright’s simple but resonant ‘Land’," 12 Feb. 2021 Smells also serve as a primal alarm system alerting humans to dangers in our environment, like fires or gas leaks. New York Times, "Some Covid Survivors Haunted by Loss of Smell and Taste," 2 Jan. 2021 But when these utter novices tap into that weird, primal thing that is artistic expression, the movie soars into a blazing display of the power of music to transcend and transform. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, "Lush romance, dreamy despair and rock ‘n’ roll: Three animated features not to miss," 25 Jan. 2021 But that primal urge to be among people — or at least have them within socially distant sight — manifested itself in less-obvious settings as well. John King,, "As we kept our distance from one another, our public spaces revealed their new uses," 1 Jan. 2021 Ramsay’s amazing skill with editing and sound design is balanced by Phoenix’s instinctual, almost primal performance. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, "The 100 Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now," 16 Jan. 2021 It's designed to invoke your most primal desires—whether that's for an exquisite gaming chair, an affordable laptop, or just a machine to squirt out single servings of delicious fro-yo. Adrienne So, Wired, "The 15 Best Devices From CES That You Can Buy Now," 14 Jan. 2021 It’s both light and rich, with lime and salt but some oddly primal taste. Eve Conant, Travel, "One way to fight invasive species? Eat them.," 30 Dec. 2020 Little Richard is gone, but not his indelible primal rock ’n’ roll. New York Times, "A Year Filled With Death Changed Lives Forever," 30 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'primal.' 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 primal

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primal

probably from prime entry 2 + -al entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about primal

Statistics for primal

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Primal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for primal



English Language Learners Definition of primal

formal : very basic and powerful

More from Merriam-Webster on primal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for primal

Britannica English: Translation of primal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on primal

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


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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