pri·​mate | \ ˈprī-ˌmāt or especially for sense 1 -mət How to pronounce primate (audio) \

Definition of primate

1 often capitalized : a bishop who has precedence in a province, a group of provinces, or a nation
2 archaic : one first in authority or rank : leader
3 : any of an order (Primates) of mammals that are characterized especially by advanced development of binocular vision resulting in stereoscopic depth perception, specialization of the hands and feet for grasping, and enlargement of the cerebral hemispheres and that include humans, apes, monkeys, and related forms (such as lemurs and tarsiers)

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Other Words from primate

primateship \ ˈprī-​ˌmāt-​ˌship How to pronounce primate (audio) \ noun
primatial \ prī-​ˈmā-​shəl How to pronounce primate (audio) \ adjective

Examples of primate in a Sentence

the Primate of England and Wales
Recent Examples on the Web Alongside the video, his owners shared several clips from happier times, including videos of the primate getting his head rubbed and snuggling up with his favorite toys. Maria Pasquini,, 10 June 2021 In what was an exciting breakthrough for primatologists – and an unexpected complication for the dam’s backers – the Tapanuli orangutan was first identified in 2017 as a separate species of a long-haired primate that is native to Sumatra. Dyna Rochmyaningsih, The Christian Science Monitor, 14 May 2021 What makes the latest experiment unique is that the scientists injected human stem cells, which can become any kind of tissue, into an embryo of a closely related primate. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2021 In the United States, federal funding cannot be used to create certain types of chimeras, including early nonhuman primate embryos containing human stem cells. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, 15 Apr. 2021 The newborn primate is the third viable offspring for his 44-year-old dad Lash and the second for 24-year-old Madini. Nicholas Rice,, 14 Apr. 2021 Ultimately, this is a fight between a giant reptile and a giant primate, and there are relative biological advantages and disadvantages that each would have. Kiersten Formoso, The Conversation, 29 Mar. 2021 While the livestream is still available to the chimpanzees, the zoo will also host the video on its website from 8AM to 4PM local time, so any curious primate can tune in. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Mar. 2021 Another rhesus monkey named Albert II, for example, became the first primate to reach space, achieving an altitude of 83 miles (134 km) aboard another V2 in June 1949. Mike Wall, Scientific American, 29 Jan. 2013

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primate

Middle English primat, primate, borrowed from Anglo-French primat, primas, borrowed from Late Latin prīmāt-, prīmās "chief, superior, chief bishop," noun derivative of Latin prīmāt-, prīmās "of the highest rank, noble," from prīmus "first, foremost" + -āt-, -ās, adjective-forming suffix, originally from place names; (sense 3) after New Latin Primates (order name introduced by linnaeus), plural of Latin prīmās — more at prime entry 2

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Time Traveler for primate

Time Traveler

The first known use of primate was in the 13th century

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Statistics for primate

Last Updated

13 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Primate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for primate



English Language Learners Definition of primate

: any member of the group of animals that includes human beings, apes, and monkeys
formal : the highest ranking priest in a particular country or area in some Christian churches (such as the Church of England)


pri·​mate | \ ˈprī-ˌmāt How to pronounce primate (audio) \

Kids Definition of primate

: any of a group of mammals that includes humans together with the apes and monkeys and a few related forms


pri·​mate | \ ˈprī-ˌmāt How to pronounce primate (audio) \

Medical Definition of primate

: any mammal of the order Primates

More from Merriam-Webster on primate

Nglish: Translation of primate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of primate for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about primate


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