primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē How to pronounce primary (audio) , ˈprī-mə-rē, ˈprīm-rē How to pronounce primary (audio) \

Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : first in order of time or development : primitive the primary stage of civilization the primary lesion of a disease
2a : of first rank, importance, or value : principal the primary purpose
b : basic, fundamental security is a primary need
c : of, relating to, or constituting the principal flight feathers of a bird's wing
d : of or relating to agriculture, forestry, and the extractive industries or their products
e : expressive of present or future time primary tense
f : of, relating to, or constituting the strongest of the three or four degrees of stress recognized by most linguists the first syllable of basketball carries primary stress
3a : direct, firsthand primary sources of information
b : not derivable from other colors, odors, or tastes
c : preparatory to something else in a continuing process primary instruction
d : of or relating to a primary school primary education
e : of or relating to a primary election a primary candidate
f : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications primary nerves
g : directly derived from ores primary metals
h : of, relating to, or being the amino acid sequence in proteins primary protein structure
4 : resulting from the substitution of one of two or more atoms or groups in a molecule a primary amine especially : being or characterized by a carbon atom having a bond to only one other carbon atom
5 : of, relating to, involving, or derived from primary meristem primary tissue primary growth
6 : of, relating to, or involved in the production of organic substances by green plants primary productivity
7 : providing primary care a primary physician

primary

noun
plural primaries

Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that stands first in rank, importance, or value : fundamental usually used in plural
2 : the celestial body around which one or more other celestial bodies revolve especially : the more massive usually brighter component of a binary star system
3 : one of the usually 9 or 10 strong flight feathers on the distal joint of a bird's wing — see wing illustration
b : the sensation of seeing primary colors
5a : caucus
b : an election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office, choose party officials, or select delegates for a party convention
6 : the coil that is connected to the source of electricity in an induction coil or transformer

called also primary coil

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Examples of primary in a Sentence

Adjective

The economy was the primary focus of the debate. The family is the primary social unit of human life. The primary function of our schools is to educate our young people. We just started our primary flight training. The book is based mainly on primary sources rather than secondary sources.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The primary focus remains on the White House, where weeks have passed since a pair of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, galvanized public pressure for new gun measures that have since been prioritized by congressional Democrats. The Washington Post, oregonlive, "White House readies gun plan, but Trump still conflicted," 14 Sep. 2019 Once the season ended, his primary focus was on getting healthy. BostonGlobe.com, "As Boston College was going through preparation for the First Responders Bowl last winter, running back A.J. Dillon took an inventory of his two years as an Eagle, bypassed all the yards and awards he had racked up in two seasons, and searched for ways he could squeeze more out of his game.," 11 Sep. 2019 While contract negotiations have covered a number of issues, including health care and pensions, wages were a primary focus. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Grocery strike likely averted as union, supermarket chains reach tentative agreement," 8 Sep. 2019 Although contract negotiations have covered a number of issues, including healthcare and pensions, wages were a primary focus. Lori Weisberg, Los Angeles Times, "Grocery strike may be averted: Supermarkets and union reach tentative deal," 8 Sep. 2019 Sanford said his primary focus is Republicans have abandoned a debate over the rising national debt, which Sanford believes will, if unattended, cause a financial collapse on the scale of the Great Depression. Kirk Brown, USA TODAY, "Former SC Congressman Mark Sanford announces GOP presidential bid against Trump," 8 Sep. 2019 The move would allow the state's central committee members to hold a vote and commit the state's GOP delegates to the president, shielding him from a primary challenge. Meg Kinnard, Anchorage Daily News, "S. Carolina, Kansas Republicans scrap 2020 presidential preference votes to block Trump challengers," 7 Sep. 2019 While Dorian continues to be the primary focus, hurricane season is revving up with three other disturbances that are being monitored by the NHC. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Beyond Hurricane Dorian: Three More Potential Tropical Cyclones," 3 Sep. 2019 The primary focus is the Bakers’ (Kate Walsh and Brian d'Arcy James) lawsuit against the school, which claims Liberty took a blind eye to the bullying Hannah faced and failed to respond to warning signs of her suicidal ideation. Chelsea Greenwood Lassman, Teen Vogue, ""13 Reasons Why" Season 3 Recapped and the Questions We Have for Season 4," 29 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Trump would be likely to win the primaries handily, demonstrating his strength among Republicans while the Democrats tussle. The Editors, National Review, "Let Republican Voters Choose," 12 Sep. 2019 Ossoff also announced an endorsement from Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the dean of Georgia's congressional delegation and a seminal civil rights leader, an endorsement that could help his efforts to win a crowded Democratic primary. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, "Jon Ossoff announces Georgia Senate bid," 10 Sep. 2019 The immigration attorney challenging U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar from the left in the Democratic primary drew the backing of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday. Benjamin Wermund, ExpressNews.com, "Elizabeth Warren endorses challenger to Rep. Henry Cuellar in primary," 9 Sep. 2019 The poll also finds Biden the best-positioned in the Democratic primary. oregonlive, "Biden leads Trump by 9 percentage points in key battleground of Wisconsin, poll finds," 5 Sep. 2019 Sirhan, is serving a life sentence in connection with the death of Kennedy, a U.S. senator from New York who was slain at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the 1968 Democratic presidential primary in California. Fox News, "Sirhan Sirhan, RFK's assassin, stabbed in California prison, officials say," 31 Aug. 2019 But convincing voters in rural areas of states with early nominating contests, such as Iowa and South Carolina, will be key to winning the Democratic primary. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "Here's how Pete Buttigieg plans to appeal to rural and religious voters," 26 Aug. 2019 Despite her optimism, Schriock has concerns — particularly about how the women in the Democratic presidential primary are being portrayed in the media. Joe Garofoli, SFChronicle.com, "Trump can be beaten, top fundraiser tells Dems, so ‘stop wringing your hands’," 16 Aug. 2019 Bend city Councilor Nathan Boddie won an uncontested Democratic primary. Gary A. Warner | Bend Bulletin, oregonlive.com, "Knute Buehler reappears on political scene to keep Bend House seat from going Democratic," 2 Aug. 2019

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

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primary

Adjective

Middle English, from Late Latin primarius basic, primary, from Latin, principal, from primus

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Statistics for primary

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for primary

The first known use of primary was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for primary

primary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: most important
: most basic or essential
: happening or coming first

primary

noun

English Language Learners Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

US : an election in which members of the same political party run against each other for the chance to be in a larger and more important election

primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē How to pronounce primary (audio) , -mə-rē\

Kids Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : first in time or development the primary grades
2 : most important : main primary duties
3 : not made or coming from something else : basic the primary source of information
4 : relating to or being the heaviest of three levels of stress in pronunciation

primary

noun
plural primaries

Kids Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

: an election in which members of a political party nominate candidates for office

primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē How to pronounce primary (audio) , ˈprīm-(ə-)rē How to pronounce primary (audio) \

Medical Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : first in order of time or development
(2) : relating to or being the milk teeth and especially the 20 milk teeth in the human set
b(1) : arising spontaneously : idiopathic primary insomnia the absence of any pelvic abnormality confirmed the diagnosis of primary dysmenorrhea
(2) : being an initial tumor or site especially of cancer efforts to find the primary tumor have failed— Raphael Feinmesser
c : providing primary care a primary physician
2 : not derivable from other colors, odors, or tastes
3 : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications primary nerves
4 : of, relating to, or being the amino acid sequence in proteins primary protein structure — compare secondary sense 3, tertiary entry 2 sense 2c
5 : resulting from the substitution of one of two or more atoms or groups in a molecule especially : being or characterized by a carbon atom having a bond to only one other carbon atom

primary

noun
plural primaries

Medical Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

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primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē, -mə-rē How to pronounce primary (audio) \

Legal Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of first rank, value, or importance
2 : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications

Other Words from primary

primarily \ prī-​ˈmer-​ə-​lē How to pronounce primarily (audio) \ adverb

primary

noun
plural primaries

Legal Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : caucus
2 : an election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office, choose party officials, or select delegates for a party convention

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More from Merriam-Webster on primary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with primary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for primary

Spanish Central: Translation of primary

Nglish: Translation of primary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of primary for Arabic Speakers

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