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

Prior to her death in February 2019, Radziwill had spent more than 30 years in her spacious New York City apartment, which served as a primary residence in addition to her homes in London and Paris. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Inside Lee Radziwill's Energetic Upper East Side Apartment," 8 May 2019 A week after she was first reported missing, Josh was named the primary suspect in her disappearance. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Susan Cox Powell's Sister Reveals What She Believes Really Happened to Her," 4 May 2019 Their primary residence is in East Hampton, New York, where Ina films her television show. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "Ina Garten's Net Worth Is Seriously Impressive," 18 Apr. 2019 Their daughters were encouraged to go to school, primary first and then secondary. Caterina Clerici & Eléonore Hamelin, Marie Claire, "Rwanda's Future Is Female," 1 Feb. 2019 Unlike Brook’s campaign, voters can expect plenty of advertising from Levin and Lipton in the weeks to come, heading into a primary that will likely decide the winner in November. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Andy Levin looks to take dad Sander Levin's seat in Congress," 13 July 2018 In a late-stage clinical trial, 13.2% of patients receiving a placebo achieved the trial’s primary endpoint. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Placebo 1: Gilead 0," 25 Apr. 2019 However, thanks to some unexpected online support, likely jumpstarted by a few choice podcast appearances, Yang has now qualified for the first Democratic primary debate. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "How Evelyn Yang, Wife of 2020 Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang, Stays Under the Radar," 14 Apr. 2019 For poor and working-class families, especially those who are Black and Brown, public schools are often the only option for primary and secondary education. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Access to Education for Black Children Proves Difficult for Their Parents, Creating a Disadvantage," 13 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Currently polling at 3% nationally with over $1.7 million in individual donations, Yang has officially qualified for the Democratic primary debates. Seamus Kirst, Teen Vogue, "Andrew Yang Explains Why Young Voters Are Drawn to His Candidacy," 14 May 2019 This is the man who lost both the 1988 and 2008 presidential primaries. Melanie Hamlett, Glamour, "America Loves a Loser (As Long As He's White and Male)," 17 Apr. 2019 Newsom, who finished eight points ahead of Cox in the June primary, is taking a typical front-runner’s attitude toward the suggestion of a series of debates: Don’t count on it. Joe Garofoli, SFChronicle.com, "Gavin Newsom agrees to one debate with John Cox in CA governor race — on CNN," 12 July 2018 Salazar ended up winning the Democratic primary for a state Senate seat in Brooklyn on Sept. 13, defeating eight-term incumbent Sen. Martin Dilan. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Politicians caught padding their resumes, from fake diplomas to biographical discrepancies," 21 Sep. 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in June in the 14th district next door, advocating a brand of democratic socialism that aims to take power away from the rich Democrats who dwell in lower Manhattan. The Economist, "The L wordWho is a Democrat?," 12 July 2018 Jacobs, a staunch libertarian, won the Republican primary in May by fewer than 20 votes. Dan Gartland, SI.com, "Kane’s Mayoral Opponent Calls Him Out for Continuing to Wrestle as Election Nears," 6 July 2018 Liuba Shirley, a friend of DiMasi’s who won the Democrat primary in a neighboring congressional district, began her campaign with 2000 volunteers, DiMasi says enviously. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "Elaine DiMasi learns hard lessons about money and leadership in politics," 5 July 2018 Hof, who won the Republican primary last month for a state Assembly seat by unseating a three-term incumbent, said the people trying to eliminate brothels underestimated Nevada’s libertarian, live-and-let-live identity. David Montero, latimes.com, "Effort to close brothels in one Nevada county fails to get enough signatures for ballot," 3 July 2018

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

5 Jun 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

Comments on primary

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