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 For this reason, overall wellbeing has become a primary concern for employees and employers. Tracy Brower, Forbes, 6 June 2021 Many Americans view immigration as the primary concern of Latinos. Washington Post, 2 June 2021 Then, the group's primary concern was looking ahead to the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese, and how that would affect life and politics in the city. Lilit Marcus, CNN, 2 June 2021 John Collins is a potential All-Star at power forward and Clint Capela, the primary target of Young’s lob passes, has developed into one of the better centers in the Eastern Conference. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 May 2021 While a ransomware note the researchers recovered suggested that Apostle had been used against a critical facility in the United Arab Emirates, the primary target was Israel. Dan Goodin, Wired, 27 May 2021 Skarlatos, in an interview with Newsmax about a week after the event, said his primary concern was that the media would demonize Trump supporters. oregonlive, 26 May 2021 Pantheon also still needs to test the Shelf Margin Deltaic that was the primary Talitha target. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, 26 May 2021 With DeAndre Hopkins established as QB Kyler Murray's primary target, doesn't appear to be much meat left on the bone for former second-rounders like Andy Isabella and Kirk, who's going into the final year of his rookie deal. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 25 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Biden previously supported the measure before reversing course and denouncing it during the Democratic primary. Caroline Kelly, CNN, 6 June 2021 That honor went to Fred Karger, the California political consultant who launched a long-shot campaign during the 2012 Republican primary. NBC News, 1 June 2021 The commission tallied 10 referrals, including four during the spring primary in February 2020 and six during the spring election in April 2020. Todd Richmond, Star Tribune, 24 May 2021 What the amendment does, said Lake County Election and Voter Registration Board Director Michelle Fajman, is solidify into law what was done during the 2020 general election — following some fallout during the 2020 primary. Alexandra Kukulka, chicagotribune.com, 8 Apr. 2021 Judy Dimon also contributed to Biden, Cory Booker and John Delaney during the Democratic primary. Jason Bisnoff, Forbes, 7 Apr. 2021 While UniteHere’s Las Vegas local famously objected to Medicare for All in favor of their plans during the 2020 primary, the rank and file overwhelmingly caucused for Sanders—suggesting a mismatch between members and leadership. Natalie Shure, The New Republic, 6 Apr. 2021 Colbeck came in third place during the 2018 Republican primary for governor with 13 percent of the vote. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2021 Biden – who took fire from progressives on immigration during the presidential primary – has proposed a bill to allow TPS recipients to have green cards. John Fritze, USA TODAY, 12 Mar. 2021

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 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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Statistics for primary

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Primary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/primary. Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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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 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

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