prime

noun
\ ˈprīm How to pronounce prime (audio) \

Definition of prime

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a often capitalized : the second of the canonical hours
b : the first hour of the day usually considered either as 6 a.m. or the hour of sunrise
2a : the earliest stage
b : spring
c : youth
3 : the most active, thriving, or satisfying stage or period in the prime of his life
4 : the chief or best individual or part : pick prime of the flock, and choicest of the stall— Alexander Pope
6a : the first note or tone of a musical scale : tonic
b : the interval between two notes on the same staff degree
7 : the symbol ′ used to distinguish arbitrary characters (such as a and a′), to indicate a specific unit (such as feet or minutes of time or angular measure), or to indicate the derivative of a function (such as p′ or f′(x)) — compare double prime

prime

adjective

Definition of prime (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : first in time : original
2a : of, relating to, or being a prime number — compare relatively prime
b : having no polynomial factors other than itself and no monomial factors other than 1 a prime polynomial
c : expressed as a product of prime factors (such as prime numbers and prime polynomials) a prime factorization
3a : first in rank, authority, or significance : principal a prime example
b : having the highest quality or value prime farmland
c : of the highest grade regularly marketed used of meat and especially beef
4 : not deriving from something else : primary

prime

verb
primed; priming

Definition of prime (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : fill, load
2a : to prepare for firing by supplying with priming
b : to insert a primer into (a cartridge case)
3 : to apply the first color, coating, or preparation to prime a wall
4a : to put into working order by filling or charging with something prime a pump with water
b : to supply with an essential prerequisite (such as a hormone, nucleic acid, or antigen) for chemical or biological activity primed female mice with estrogen
5 : to instruct beforehand : coach primed the witness
6 : stimulate

intransitive verb

: to become prime
prime the pump
: to take steps to encourage the growth or functioning of something

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Other Words from prime

Adjective

primely adverb
primeness noun

Examples of prime in a Sentence

Noun young college graduates in the prime of life The interest rate is two percent plus prime. Adjective The wine industry is of prime importance to the California economy. The police have not yet named the prime suspect in the murder investigation. The house is expensive because it's in a prime location. Verb She was obviously primed for the questions at the press conference. Both teams are primed for battle and ready to play. We sanded and primed the woodwork before painting.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Jordan seemed the more dominant player in his prime, and averaged more points per game (30.1 to LeBron's 27.0). Star Tribune, "By any measure, LeBron James is among the greatest athletes of all time," 16 Feb. 2021 But in her prime, during the ’80s and ’90s, Sander built an inarguably strong brand identity, pioneering a kind of uncompromising minimalism that the Meiers still identify with. New York Times, "The Designer Couple Revitalizing Jil Sander," 16 Feb. 2021 His game reminds you of Cam Newton in his prime ... and at 6-3 and 224 pounds, Lance isn't all that much smaller than the former Panthers MVP. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL mock draft 2021: What might happen if New York Jets don't take quarterback at No. 2," 28 Jan. 2021 The loyal ones who stuck around through years of heartbreak over superstars leaving in their prime will again be tested. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "A’s loss of Marcus Semien may be final blow to reeling franchise," 26 Jan. 2021 In Brazil, the vaccinated participants received a full dose at the prime and boost stages. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "After dosing mix-up, latest COVID-19 vaccine success comes with big question mark," 25 Nov. 2020 This is a comic at the near-prime of his powers; think Eddie Murphy in the late '80s. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, "Saturday Night Live recap: Chris Rock hosts season 46 in-studio premiere," 4 Oct. 2020 And fans started facing a sobering possibility: that Curry, 32, could spend the final years of his athletic prime in a difficult situation. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Steph Curry’s recent hot streak brings hope, energizes Warriors," 4 Jan. 2021 The Vikings agreed to a five-year, $63 million contract with Dalvin Cook, ending a long and sometimes tense set of negotiations the day before their regular season begins and ensuring the running back will spend the rest of his prime in Minnesota. Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "Dalvin Cook, Vikings agree to five-year contract extension," 13 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The couple will also be interviewed by media mogul Oprah Winfrey in a 90-minute prime-time special set to air on CBS on March 7. NBC News, "Prince Harry and Meghan will not return as working members of royal family," 19 Feb. 2021 Starting in March, ABC News will air a six-episode prime-time series on the Black experience in the United States. ABC News, "'Soul of a Nation' prime-time series to explore the Black experience in US," 18 Feb. 2021 Despite toning things down dramatically for this gentler prime-time dramedy, Davies still managed to rack up complaints. Jon O'brien, Vulture, "A Guide to Russell T. Davies’s Queer Canon," 18 Feb. 2021 As if to reinforce their new independence, the couple agreed to a prime-time interview with Oprah Winfrey, which will air in the United States on March 7. Mark Landler, New York Times, "A New Pregnancy and an Oprah Interview Refocus a Spotlight on Harry and Meghan," 17 Feb. 2021 However, the president himself used a prime-time address last month to suggest otherwise. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Psaki contradicts Biden plan to address joint session of Congress this month," 16 Feb. 2021 The Saints were fined $250,000 and coach Sean Payton was personally fined $100,000 after the league determined that Payton failed to correctly wear his face covering on the sideline during a prime-time game Sept. 21 against Las Vegas Raiders. Amie Just | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Saints reportedly facing additional discipline related to COVID-19 protocol violations," 6 Feb. 2021 The two fought seven months later in a prime-time fight on CBS that set television viewing records at the time, with nearly half the country tuning in. Tim Dahlberg, Star Tribune, "Former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks dies at 67," 6 Feb. 2021 Fox News returned to the top in prime-time ratings last week, the first full week of the Biden administration, Nielsen said. David Bauder, ajc, "Cable news ratings tighten with big months for CNN, MSNBC," 2 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His team filled 55 gallon trash cans with water to prime the toilet pumps. Sasha Pezenik, ABC News, "Bitter Texas freeze hits most vulnerable hardest," 19 Feb. 2021 The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer use a genetic molecule to prime the immune system. New York Times, "How Taiwan Plans to Stay (Mostly) Covid-Free," 2 Jan. 2021 The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer use a genetic molecule to prime the immune system. New York Times, "How Taiwan Plans to Stay (Mostly) Covid-Free," 2 Jan. 2021 Scientists have already designed an all-new vaccine specific to the South African variant that could be used as a booster to prime the immune system to the new strain, and plan to test it in the coming months. Carolyn Y. Johnson, Anchorage Daily News, "Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine protects against British and South African variants," 25 Jan. 2021 The first shot aims to help the body recognize the virus and prime the immune system, while the second shot strengthens that immune-response readiness. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, "New York Moves to Accelerate Covid-19 Vaccinations," 4 Jan. 2021 The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer use a genetic molecule to prime the immune system. New York Times, "How Taiwan Plans to Stay (Mostly) Covid-Free," 2 Jan. 2021 The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer use a genetic molecule to prime the immune system. New York Times, "How Taiwan Plans to Stay (Mostly) Covid-Free," 2 Jan. 2021 Such proteins could also prime the immune system to target cancer cells, or infectious diseases. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, "US gets more help in raging battle against COVID-19 as FDA authorizes Moderna vaccine, the second allowed for emergency use," 18 Dec. 2020

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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1513, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for prime

Noun

Middle English, going back to Old English prīm, borrowed from Medieval Latin prīma (short for Latin prīma hōra "first hour"), from feminine of Latin prīmus "first, earliest"; in senses other than sense 1 borrowed in part from Latin prīmum "first part, beginning stages" (in plural prīma) or prīmus "notable person, leading citizen," noun derivatives of prīmus, adjective — more at prime entry 2

Adjective

Middle English, "first, original, in an initial stage," borrowed from Anglo-French, originally feminine of prim "first, earliest, original, main, most important," going back to Latin prīmus "first" (ordinal corresponding to ūnus "one, foremost, earliest, of first importance, of the highest quality,") going back to earlier *prīsmos, syncopated from *prīsomos, from dialectal Indo-European *pri "in front, before" + *-is-m̥mo-, superlative suffix (from *-is-, comparative suffix + *-m̥mo-, superlative suffix) — more at prior entry 2

Note: The combined comparative-superlative suffix *-is-m̥mo- as a productive superlative suffix is peculiar to Italic and Celtic. The assumption that *-is-m̥mo- yields *-isomo- in Latin (rather than *-em- or *-am-) is based on Michael Weiss, Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin (Beech Stave Press, 2011), p. 105. (Weiss suggests as a prime example homō "man, human," from *ǵhm̥mō.)

Verb

of uncertain origin

Note: Possibly a derivative of prime entry 2, if priming something was taken to mean performing an essential preliminary stage. However, if early uses meaning simply "to load, fill" (earliest in Scots, in Gavin Douglas's translation of the Aeneid, 1513) are the original senses, the painting and weapons senses may be by secondary association with prime entry 2 and its etymons. Supporting the hypothesis of an original meaning "load" would be the apparent derivative primage "money paid by a shipper to a captain for care of the cargo," attested as English in 1476, and as Latin primagium as early as 1297. Compare in the same sense prime-gilt (earliest in Scots, 1576), alongside Middle High German primegelt, primgelt (1468) and Middle Dutch priemgelt (1460), with gelt "money." However, none of these words lead any closer to the origin of the English verb.

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Time Traveler for prime

Time Traveler

The first known use of prime was before the 12th century

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Statistics for prime

Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prime.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prime. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for prime

prime

noun

English Language Learners Definition of prime

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the period in life when a person is best in health, strength, etc. : the most active or successful time of a person's life

prime

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of prime (Entry 2 of 3)

: most important
: of the highest quality or value
used to say that someone or something is a very good example of a particular kind of person or thing

prime

verb

English Language Learners Definition of prime (Entry 3 of 3)

: to make (someone) ready to do something
: to make (something) ready for use
: to cover (a surface) with special paint in order to prepare it for the final layer of paint

prime

noun
\ ˈprīm How to pronounce prime (audio) \

Kids Definition of prime

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the period in life when a person is best in health, looks, or strength

prime

adjective

Kids Definition of prime (Entry 2 of 3)

: first in importance, rank, or quality Spring is a prime season to work outdoors.

prime

verb
primed; priming

Kids Definition of prime (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to put a first color or coating on Prime the wall before painting.
2 : to put into working order by filling prime a pump
3 : to make (someone or something) ready The coach is priming him to be quarterback.

prime

noun

Legal Definition of prime

 (Entry 1 of 2)

primed; priming

Legal Definition of prime (Entry 2 of 2)

: to have priority over a perfected security interest primes an unperfected one

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