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

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 Until recently, the band's style wouldn’t be widely dissected, and the eclectic pair would cover only Black-centric magazines and Rolling Stone in their prime. Nandi Howard, Harper's BAZAAR, "OutKast Was at the Helm of Black Expression in Fashion," 17 Nov. 2020 Even that doesn't seem to be enough to trade for an MVP candidate still in his prime at 31 years old. Matt Young, Chron, "What's going on with the Rockets and James Harden, Russell Westbrook?," 16 Nov. 2020 In his prime, Hornung was known as much for his exploits off the field as on. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "'Golden Boy' Paul Hornung, Notre Dame's Heisman winner and famed NFL bad boy, dies at 84," 13 Nov. 2020 Keep in mind, running backs coach Charles London worked with Miller previously in Houston, so London knows what Miller was like in his prime. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago Bears Q&A: Why isn’t anyone talking about GM Ryan Pace’s job status? Is it time to see what QB Tyler Bray can do? Shouldn’t Cole Kmet get some passes thrown his way?," 11 Nov. 2020 In his prime, Peterson was a rare combination of speed and power. Star Tribune, "Dalvin Cook and Mo Ibrahim give Minnesota a pairing tough to tackle," 8 Nov. 2020 Cauliflower varieties — from the pale green Romanesco with its fairy-tale turrets to the butter-gold or vibrant purple heads — are available throughout the year, but are now in their prime. Beth Dooley Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Cauliflower raises the mealtime steaks," 28 Oct. 2020 Griffen, one of the NFL's most feared pass rushers in his prime, had 74.5 sacks in 10 seasons with the Vikings and has 2.5 in seven games with the Cowboys this year. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions get help for pass rush, trade conditional draft pick for DE Everson Griffen," 27 Oct. 2020 Griffen, one of the NFL's most feared pass rushers in his prime, had 74 1/2 sacks in 10 seasons with the Vikings and has 2 1/2 in seven games with the Cowboys this year. Dave Birkett, USA TODAY, "Dallas Cowboys trade DE Everson Griffen to Detroit Lions," 27 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Dolphins play the Jets and Bengals in the next two weeks, prime games for Tagovailoa to use to develop. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "Dolphins grades and whose stock is up, whose stock down after loss to Broncos," 23 Nov. 2020 America’s prime arbiters of taste and popular culture. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "Why you wouldn't find any pumpkin pie, potatoes or cranberries at the first Thanksgiving," 21 Nov. 2020 This Thanksgiving, the winery's 2018 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay is a prime choice for food pairings, with aromas of cream, vanilla, tropical fruits, fresh melon, and hints of baking spice. Rachel King, Fortune, "The best wines for Thanksgiving," 21 Nov. 2020 The Badgers do not have the same reputation as Ohio State, which even when idle in September and much of October was included alongside Alabama and Clemson as the prime contenders for the national championship. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "College Football Playoff committee wades through muddled regular season for Tuesday's first rankings," 20 Nov. 2020 For starters, the store, now under construction, will be occupying prime Nicollet Mall frontage that has been vacant — and this is not a typo — for 15 years. Rick Nelson, Star Tribune, "Downtown Minneapolis will have a dollar store. Does that mean we're going downscale?," 20 Nov. 2020 Factories increasingly are becoming prime targets for cyber attacks. Diego Mendoza-moyers, ExpressNews.com, "UTSA launches $111 million cybersecurity research institute," 19 Nov. 2020 On the other hand, companies at risk of ejection have been prime beneficiaries of the recent broadening in the stock-market rally. Sarah Ponczek, Bloomberg.com, "Active Management Is Paying Off for the S&P 500 Index Keepers," 18 Nov. 2020 This was perhaps the prime stronghold of the shadowy medieval Conmaicne Mara, who gave Connemara their name, and who were all but wiped from record by the O’Flahertys, builders of the castle’s tower house. Colin Thubron, The New York Review of Books, "Cartographers of Stone and Air," 17 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But healthy household balance-sheets prime the economy for a boom after the pandemic. The Economist, "What GDP can and cannot tell you about the post-pandemic economy," 29 Oct. 2020 That dynamic extends down-ballot, where Texas Republicans were eager to use Biden’s words to prime the political pump in a state that’s the heart of America’s energy industry. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Texas Republicans drill into Democrats over Biden’s pledge to ‘transition from the oil industry’," 23 Oct. 2020 Whether your ancestors hail from Nigeria or Norway, investigating your genealogy can prime you for future heritage travel. Vicky Hallett, National Geographic, "Master these travel skills now for smarter trips later," 6 Oct. 2020 Hotter and drier conditions brought on by climate change can prime vegetation to burn, and decades of fire suppression have allowed fuel to accumulate in forests. Hillary Rosner, National Geographic, "A tiny pest helped stoke this year’s devastating wildfires," 1 Oct. 2020 These proteins can potentially prime the immune system to fight off a later infection by the virus. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine Advances, Sparking Optimism in Race," 23 Sep. 2020 These factors prime the public to view solutions in isolation, which means imperfections become conflated with uselessness. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic Is an Intuition Nightmare," 9 Sep. 2020 While the voting period has ended for fans to pick their choice for their favorite video, check out the contenders below to prime yourself for the big reveal. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, "Taylor Swift! Lady Gaga! The Weeknd! Watch All the 2020 MTV VMAs Video of the Year Nominees," 28 Aug. 2020 Building codes were more aggressively enforced, and the creation of a new urban renewal district and light-rail project on Interstate Avenue helped prime the area for reinvestment, Gibson wrote. oregonlive, "Retiring Jefferson High teacher watched 3 decades of change in his Portland school, community," 22 Aug. 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

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prime.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prime. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for prime

prime

noun
How to pronounce prime (audio)

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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