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 [New Latin Primates, from Latin, plural of primat-, primas] : 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 primateship (audio) \ noun
primatial \ prī-​ˈmā-​shəl How to pronounce primatial (audio) \ adjective

Examples of primate in a Sentence

the Primate of England and Wales
Recent Examples on the Web For instance, elephants score much lower than primates do on a test known as the A-not-B challenge. Justin Mott, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Are Learning How Asian Elephants Think—In Order to Save Them," 19 Mar. 2020 Here, there is a Brachiation Station at which kids can grab on swing from limb-to-limb, like spider monkeys and primates. Roxanne Washington, cleveland, "Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Rainforest Adventure opens Saturday," 7 Mar. 2020 Terrestrial species like primates and rodents have been known to commit infanticide, and the behavior has been infrequently observed among dolphins. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Male Orca and Its Mother Worked Together to Kill a Newborn Calf," 27 Mar. 2018 Even so, reproductive cloning had succeeded for the first time in a primate. Henry T. Greely, STAT, "Human reproductive cloning: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time," 21 Feb. 2020 During much of the human journey from just another primate to world-conquering hominid, our four-legged pals have been right by our side. Popular Science, "Did humans truly domesticate dogs? Canine history is more of a mystery than you think.," 10 Feb. 2020 The discovery is the first time these traits have been observed in a non-primate species. NBC News, "Call of the wild? African penguins share some linguistic patterns with humans.," 5 Feb. 2020 One of the grants that funds these experiments is in its 43rd year of funding as NIH continues to spend more tax dollars experimenting on primates than any other government agency. Carlin Becker, Washington Examiner, "Taxpayer watchdog sues federal health agency for withholding animal testing records and videos," 13 Jan. 2020 Her first recorded encounter with a chimpanzee happened at age one, when her father gifted her with a stuffed toy primate named . Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Immerse Yourself in Jane Goodall’s Wondrous, Chimpanzee-Filled Life," 8 Jan. 2020

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, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin primat-, primas archbishop, from Latin, leader, from primus

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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

28 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Primate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for primate


How to pronounce primate (audio)

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

Spanish Central: Translation of primate

Nglish: Translation of primate for Spanish Speakers

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

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