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 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,, "Florida Zoo Welcomes 'Critically Endangered' Baby Gorilla: 'We Have Many Reasons to Celebrate'," 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, "Godzilla vs. Kong: A functional morphologist uses science to pick a winner," 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, "Czech Chimpanzees Use Video Calls to Fight Lockdown Blues," 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, "Monkeys in Space: A Brief Spaceflight History," 29 Jan. 2013 The irony of the lemur’s name was not lost on staff, all of whom were glad to see that the petite primate had survived, spotted in his tree after Irma cleared. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Hurricane Facts: What happens to zoo animals during a hurricane?," 8 Mar. 2021 The slender-limbed, long-tailed primate, described today in Nature, was about the size of today’s pygmy mouse lemur and would have weighed between 20 and 30 grams, the researchers estimate. Sid Perkins, Scientific American, "Oldest Primate Skeleton Unveiled," 5 June 2013 Researchers first captured this pocket-sized primate during a survey of northeast Madagascar in 2006. Cat Kutz, Smithsonian Magazine, "These Conservation Stories Prove 2020 Was Not All Bad News," 14 Dec. 2020 Two days later, the 21-year-old primate was found wandering in a Daly City preschool, just hours before McGilloway was taken into custody. Matthias Gafni,, "Suspect in theft of Maki the lemur ordered released, told to stay away from San Francisco Zoo," 5 Jan. 2021

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

26 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Primate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 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

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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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