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

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 Rentz was gunned down in his prime, caught in a spray of drive-by gunfire after a post-funeral gathering in Orlando. Chris Hays, orlandosentinel.com, 17 Nov. 2021 These are proven clutch performers who, based on history, are in their prime and can perform likewise in the future. Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2021 The Blazers might as well have been facing Wilt Chamberlain in his prime. oregonlive, 11 Nov. 2021 Much like The Beatles in their prime, the San Diego Symphony will be here, there and everywhere during the orchestra’s unprecedentedly ambitious and wide-ranging 2022 winter and spring season. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Nov. 2021 But with DeRozan shipped to Chicago in the offseason and point guard Dejounte Murray, rim protector Jakob Poeltl and White all in their prime, the Spurs are stingy again. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, 1 Nov. 2021 Melvin recently tuned 60, and is really in the prime of his career. Bernie Pleskoff, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 Seriously, try not to smile ear to ear while watching Zendaya and Chalamet deliver a healthy mix of thoughtful and silly answers, trade inside jokes and giggle their heads off in the prime of their careers. Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2021 The issue, of course, is that Power was the sole dominant qualifying force during the prime of his career, whereas Herta and O’Ward will likely have to contend with each. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Bullock said her costar's kind gesture was a prime example of his listening skills. Greta Bjornson, PEOPLE.com, 23 Nov. 2021 The twists in One of Us Is Next are a prime example. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, 23 Nov. 2021 Bergeron singled out the cleaning-products brand Method, which hit the market in 2001, as a prime example of the difference that appearance can make for even the most quotidian goods. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 22 Nov. 2021 State and local finances are a prime example of how federal action, unlike in the early 2010s, was oriented toward overdoing it rather than underdoing it. New York Times, 15 Nov. 2021 In Brazil, Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that causes devastating birth defects, is a prime example. Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2021 Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, home to the tony Aspen ski resort and multi-million-dollar homes, is prime example of the rise in private flights. Jaclyn Trop, Fortune, 12 Nov. 2021 Europe is a prime example of how Congress can take legislative action. Julie Wainwright For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 10 Nov. 2021 Major companies have stepped in, with Tesla being a prime example. Chris Smith, BGR, 9 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Tune in to prime yourself for the release of Spencer in November; tune out despairing that The Crown season 5 doesn't arrive for another year. Ew Staff, EW.com, 8 Oct. 2021 In the case of certain viruses, among them the influenza virus, our immune systems need regular encounters with these viruses to prime themselves to respond. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, 15 Sep. 2021 Kids’ nasal passages appear to contain less of the ACE2 receptor that the coronavirus uses to get into cells, and airway cells show differences that may prime them to detect the virus early. Sara Reardon, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Sep. 2021 The idea, simplified, is to prime the immune system in the very locations that are first exposed to the virus. Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Oct. 2021 And with the doom and ire, the internet will prime our mood meaning that adjacent emailing is also less likely to be motivational and courteous. Nancy Doyle, Forbes, 7 Sep. 2021 Two shots can prime the immune system to fight the coronavirus. New York Times, 25 Jan. 2021 The vaccine is composed of a lipid nanoparticle, a sphere of fat molecules encapsulating a strand of messenger RNA, which instructs human cells to make proteins that trigger antibodies and prime the immune system against future viral invasions. Washington Post, 16 June 2021 The vaccine is composed of a lipid nanoparticle, a sphere of fat molecules encapsulating a strand of messenger RNA, which instructs human cells to make proteins that trigger antibodies and prime the immune system against future viral invasions. Christopher Rowland, Anchorage Daily News, 16 June 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.

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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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Dictionary Entries Near prime

prima volta

prime

prime cost

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Statistics for prime

Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prime.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prime. Accessed 7 Dec. 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 : primary
: of the highest quality or value : excellent
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 : prepare
: 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)

prime

transitive verb
primed; priming

Legal Definition of prime (Entry 2 of 2)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on prime

Nglish: Translation of prime for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prime for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about prime

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