prime number


Definition of prime number

: any integer other than 0 or ± 1 that is not divisible without remainder by any other integers except ± 1 and ± the integer itself

Examples of prime number in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This happens every 17 years along the East Coast for Brood X of the periodical cicada, three near-identical species of an insect that has figured out that if its life cycle is linked to a prime number, few predators will co-evolve to eat it. Washington Post, 26 May 2021 Kritsky: For many years, it was believed that the long prime number life-cycle was an ideal way to stop predators and parasites intermediate stages to evolve synchrony with the cicadas. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 26 May 2021 But to be widely digitally delicate, a prime number must also become composite if any of its digits is decreased. Quanta Magazine, 30 Mar. 2021 To see how p-adic number systems emerge from modular arithmetic, start by classifying all integers modulo a specific prime number. Quanta Magazine, 19 Oct. 2020 The mathematician who follows the ice queen often dislikes concrete applications or specific cases — Alexander Grothendieck, one of the high priests of abstract algebra, once famously picked 57 as an example of a prime number. Quanta Magazine, 16 June 2020 But Cooley says this theory is flawed: Cicadas don’t have 11- or 19-year cycles, yet these are prime numbers, too. Amy Mckeever, National Geographic, 3 June 2020 The last prime number found by GIMPS was on December 7, 2018—it was 24,862,048 digits long. Andy Patrizio, Ars Technica, 14 Apr. 2020 Maynard and Koukoulopoulos knew that previous work in the field had reduced the problem to one about the prime factors of the denominators—the prime numbers that, when multiplied together, yield the denominator. Leila Sloman, Scientific American, 16 Sep. 2019

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

1570, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prime number

translation of Late Latin prīmus numerus, translation of Greek prôtos arithmós

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Time Traveler for prime number

Time Traveler

The first known use of prime number was in 1570

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Statistics for prime number

Last Updated

8 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prime number.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for prime number

prime number


English Language Learners Definition of prime number

mathematics : a number (such as 2, 3, or 5) that can only be exactly divided by itself and by 1

prime number


Kids Definition of prime number

: a number (as 2, 3, or 5) that results in a whole number from division only when it is divided by itself or by 1

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