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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At 28, Bogaerts is in his prime and could opt out of his contract after the 2022 season. BostonGlobe.com, "The Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts didn’t expect to be part of a rebuild in his prime. He hopes patience pays off," 27 Mar. 2021 Sixteen more days of Kirilloff in the big leagues this year as an unproven rookie, or a full year of Kirilloff in his prime? Star Tribune, "In face of a silly rule, Twins sending Alex Kirilloff down was right move," 25 Mar. 2021 Night after night, there was Levine in his prime, popping onto the podium to roaring cheers. Justin Davidson, Vulture, "On the Talented, Monstrous James Levine," 17 Mar. 2021 In his prime, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound was a truly spectacular athlete, unleashing some historically memorable dunks and scoring proficiently around the basket as the Clippers rose to prominence. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "Warriors reportedly interested in Blake Griffin. Does that make sense to anyone?," 6 Mar. 2021 Granted, the six-time Pro Bowl selection and 12-year veteran, at 35, has bid farewell to his prime. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, "Possible 49ers free agent targets: Emmanuel Sanders reunion? Mitchell Trubisky's fit?," 13 Mar. 2021 But then, baseball is always fun for Romine, who offers no apologies for hanging on after his prime, looking for part-time work. Phil Miller, Star Tribune, "Andrew Romine builds his value as ultimate utility player," 13 Mar. 2021 Diggins, who is twenty-nine, should be in her absolute prime during the next few seasons, with most of the doubts that can gnaw at younger athletes behind her. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "The Cross-Country Skier Jessie Diggins Makes History in a Year of COVID-19 and Climate Change," 12 Mar. 2021 The great physical comedian was near his prime in this 1989 Joe Johnston hit that became a worldwide phenomenon. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, "The 80 Best Movies on Disney+ Right Now," 10 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Adam White and Irv Lichtman turned over prime space in the magazine to me every week with confidence and Eliot Tiegel impressed on me the need to be accurate at all times. Billboard, "Billboard's Paul Grein Talks 40 Years of 'Chart Beat' Being Driven by 'The Best Tool of All: A Sense of Curiosity'," 30 Mar. 2021 The ratio for Black prime-age workers is 7.2 percentage points lower than for White workers, which is 77.8 percent. Washington Post, "The soft underbelly to a looming economic boom: Millions will miss out," 30 Mar. 2021 Emissaries from several of the world’s biggest prime brokerages tried to head off the chaos by holding a call with Hwang before the drama spilled into public view Friday morning. Donal Griffin, Fortune, "Archegos saga: hopes for an orderly fix turned into a bruising free-for-all among Wall Street titans," 30 Mar. 2021 World Series champions, nestled between the prime ages of 26 and 28, each with just 162 games separating them from seemingly bottomless riches. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "The $1 billion quintet: Breaking down MLB's epic free agent shortstop class," 29 Mar. 2021 After the incident, the guard's crew delves deeper into his past, uncovering his history as a prime marksman with a secret motive to wrestle personal demons and settle an age-old, bloody score. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Jason Statham hunts Post Malone in Guy Ritchie's bloody Wrath of Man trailer," 29 Mar. 2021 The 49ers were wary that other QB-needy teams, a group that includes the Panthers (No. 8 pick), Broncos (No. 9) and Patriots (No. 15), could trade up into prime-QB positions. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, "QB talk ... and talk: 49ers' Shanahan, Lynch detail path to blockbuster draft deal," 29 Mar. 2021 The participation rate initially fell much more for prime-age workers, those between ages 25 and 54, from 82.9% in February last year to 79.8% in April, but has since jumped 1.3 points, to 81.1% in February of this year. Amara Omeokwe, WSJ, "Pandemic Accelerates Retirements, Threatening Economic Growth," 28 Mar. 2021 Land Tejas Communities, a long-time supporter of the Greater Houston Builders Association, has donated a prime lot in Lago Mar for a Benefit home to be built by Chesmar Homes. Chron, "Land Tejas donates homesite for GHBA Benefit home," 27 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After all, the initial point of racing to a Justice League movie was to introduce new superheroes to prime them for their own solo movies. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, "Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’: Warner Bros.’ Fatal Mistake Was Focusing On Batman," 21 Mar. 2021 Some research indicates that a natural infection works to prime the immune response to SARS-CoV-2, much as a first dose would, making a second injection unnecessary. Jason Gale, Fortune, "New COVID vaccines that don’t require needles could be ready later this year, WHO says," 16 Mar. 2021 However, in building that eminence, brands need to prime their executives and influencer partners on savvy media relations strategies. Bret Werner, Forbes, "Tips For Strategic Brand Activations On Clubhouse," 19 Mar. 2021 Both vaccines prime the immune system to target the coronavirus’s spike protein, which plays an instrumental role in the infection process. Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, "Scientists get serious about mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines," 27 Feb. 2021 Vaccines similarly prime the immune system to release antibodies. Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, "California coronavirus variant is resistant to antibodies, but vaccines should still work," 24 Feb. 2021 Johnson & Johnson's shot uses a cold virus like a Trojan horse to carry the spike gene into the body, where cells make harmless copies of the protein to prime the immune system in case the real virus comes along. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, "FDA signs off on third shot to fight virus," 28 Feb. 2021 In theory, the attentional feedback signal could prime only those neurons responsible for an action to respond to the global reinforcement signal by updating their synaptic weights, said Roelfsema. Quanta Magazine, "Artificial Neural Nets Finally Yield Clues to How Brains Learn," 18 Feb. 2021 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

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prime

Time Traveler for prime

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for prime

Last Updated

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prime.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prime. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on prime

What made you want to look up prime? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!