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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Higher energy prices are a primary reason for the rapid inflation, the bank said, but supply chain disruptions and domestic inflation pressures are also rising. Eshe Nelson, New York Times, 4 Aug. 2022 Currently, all Americans age 5 and over are eligible for a booster shot five months after their initial primary series. Matthew Perrone, Lauran Neergaard, Anchorage Daily News, 29 July 2022 Currently, all Americans age 5 and over are eligible for a booster shot five months after their initial primary series. CBS News, 29 July 2022 Currently, all Americans age 5 and over are eligible for a booster shot five months after their initial primary series. Matthew Perrone And Lauran Neergaard, Chicago Tribune, 29 July 2022 The logistic challenge of providing the therapy to people at a reasonable cost is the primary reason patients still turn to other options. James Riordon, Scientific American, 29 July 2022 Similarly, all students 16 or older must have received, or have started receiving, their primary COVID-19 vaccination series by the beginning of the school year. Arielle Mitropoulos, ABC News, 21 July 2022 On Tuesday, the vaccine advisers of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted 12-0 to recommend the use of the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine as a two-dose primary series in adults. Kent Sepkowitz, CNN, 20 July 2022 Older Americans continue to represent the most vaccinated population with more than 91% of people over the age of 65 receiving a two-dose primary series, and 70% receiving a booster, according to the CDC. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, 16 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But whoever wins the Democratic primary is favored to win in the general election, likely putting an end to a distinction that Vermont has had to itself after Mississippi elected Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith to the U.S. Senate in 2018. Barbara Rodriguez, USA TODAY, 8 Aug. 2022 Park finished second in the June primary to public interest lawyer Erin Darling. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2022 Lake will face Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who won the Democratic gubernatorial primary, in November. Peter Weber, The Week, 5 Aug. 2022 The front-runners in the Democratic primary are Lucas Kunce, a Marine judge advocate who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Anheuser-Busch beer heir Trudy Busch Valentine. Aaron Zitner, WSJ, 2 Aug. 2022 Early results on Tuesday show State Sen. Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, edging out Cody Williams in the Democratic primary for South Mountain justice of the peace. Carrie Watters, The Arizona Republic, 2 Aug. 2022 Michael Ettore finished a distant third in the Democratic primary for the seat. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, 2 Aug. 2022 According to state records reviewed by Fox News Digital, the Maine Justice & Public Safety PAC used the money to back Jackie Sartoris, who defeated Cumberland County's Democratic district attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck in a June primary. Joe Schoffstall, Fox News, 19 July 2022 The endorsements also represent an apparent reversal for some lawmakers who backed Gómez before the June primary. Deborah Sullivan Brennan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 July 2022 See More

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.

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 primarye, primary "original, earliest," borrowed from Latin prīmārius "of the highest importance or station (of persons), first-rate, chief" (Late Latin, "original, lying at the beginning," Medieval Latin, "foremost, leading"), from prīmus "first, foremost, earliest, of first importance" + -ārius -ary entry 2 — more at prime entry 2

Noun

in part borrowed from Late Latin prīmārius "person leading, leader," noun derivative of Latin prīmārius "of the highest importance or station, chief, primary entry 1"; in part noun derivative of primary entry 1, or shortened from collocations with the adjective; (sense 5) shortened from primary election, earlier primary assembly, translation of French assemblée primaire

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Time Traveler for primary

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near primary

primariness

primary

primary accent

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Statistics for primary

Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Primary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/primary. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for primary

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)

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 primary (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

More from Merriam-Webster on primary

Nglish: Translation of primary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of primary for Arabic Speakers

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