primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē , ˈprī-mə-rē, ˈprīm-rē \

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

Buckingham Palace dates back to the early 1700s, and has been the monarch's primary residence since the reign of Queen Victoria. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Why Prince Charles and Other Royal Family Members Secretly Dislike Buckingham Palace," 27 Jan. 2019 Nadella has refocused Microsoft on the cloud, and the software giant has made big gains against Amazon, its primary rival. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Microsoft briefly overtakes Apple to become the world’s most valuable company," 26 Nov. 2018 Is this probably gonna wind up being more of a supplemental thing than a primary income for people? Eric Johnson, Recode, "Social media makes us angry and unfocused. Is email the answer?," 6 Sep. 2018 Chloe Kim, for example, nabbed an X Games invite at age 13, as the primary criterium is skill. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "The 2019 Winter X Games Starts This Week—Here’s What You Need to Know," 23 Jan. 2019 But Charles Cameron, the herd’s primary veterinarian for 29 years, says he's seen nothing like the outbreak that began two years ago, which spiked significantly this past autumn. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "A Deadly 'Swamp Cancer' Has Killed Seven of the Famous Chincoteague Wild Ponies," 11 Jan. 2019 The 19-year-old from Wisconsin was victorious in the state primary in August and ran uncontested to represent Milwaukee's 16th District, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "20 Big Firsts and Historic Wins from the 2018 Midterm Elections," 7 Nov. 2018 Commissioners, at the request of the School Board, set a referendum for the Aug. 28 primary on a special school safety tax of 75 cents for each $1,000 of taxable property value. Jerry Fallstrom, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Lake says not enough money to fund sheriff's $9.8 million budget increase request," 13 July 2018 Agencies that partner with the company set up a special page, and access to information — like where to vote or when to register for a primary — is targeted to the relevant area where a person lives. New York Times, "Nextdoor Is Betting a Social Network Can Still Be a Platform for Politics," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This will all get worse as the 2020 Democratic primaries unfold. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Democrats’ Identity Meltdown," 10 Feb. 2019 Trump trotted them out during both the Republican primary and the presidential campaign. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Diamond and Silk, Fox & Friends’ favorite black Trump supporters, explained," 5 Feb. 2019 During his father's 2015 presidential primary run, Jeb Jr. served as a surrogate for the candidate on the campaign trail. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meet the 14 People Who Called George H.W. Bush Grandfather," 6 Dec. 2018 More people also voted in Senate and governor primaries, but the party gap wasn't as big. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Voters Don't Come Out for Midterm Elections. But That Could Change This Year.," 30 Oct. 2018 Manchin easily defeated challenger Paula Jean Swearengin in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Morrisey pulls off upset in W.Va. Senate primary, as Indiana’s Braun and Ohio’s Renacci win nominations," 2 Oct. 2018 Soon after finishing third in the New Hampshire primary though, Jon dropped out of the race and began endorsing Mitt Romney. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'The View' Cohost Abby Huntsman Has Quite an Interesting Background," 28 Aug. 2018 Though narrowly winning the March primary nomination, Rauner was faulted by challenger, state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, for not supporting the president. Rick Pearson, chicagotribune.com, "Vice President Pence to speak in Rosemont Friday, when Gov. Rauner will introduce him," 12 July 2018 African-American voters carry enormous clout in Democratic presidential primaries, having boosted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to the last two contested nominations. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris Says She Is Running for President in 2020," 21 Jan. 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

13 Feb 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 , -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 , ˈprīm-(ə-)rē \

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 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 -ries

Medical Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

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primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē, -mə-rē \

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 \ adverb

primary

noun
plural -ries

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

Comments on primary

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