primer

noun (1)
prim·​er | \ˈpri-mər, chiefly British ˈprī-mə\

Definition of primer 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small book for teaching children to read

2 : a small introductory book on a subject

3 : a short informative piece of writing

primer

noun (2)
prim·​er | \ˈprī-mər \

Definition of primer (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a device for priming especially : a cap, tube, or wafer containing percussion powder or compound used to ignite an explosive charge

2 : material used in priming a surface

called also prime coat

3 : a molecule (such as a short strand of RNA or DNA) whose presence is required for formation of another molecule (such as a longer chain of DNA)

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Did You Know?

Primers were once a standard part of every child's education. The first primer printed in North America, The New England Primer (ca. 1690), was typical; it contained many quotations from the Bible and many moral lessons, and the text was accompanied by numerous woodcut illustrations. We no longer use the word in early education, but it's widely used in everyday speech. Notice how primer is pronounced; don't mix it up with the kind of paint that's pronounced with a long *i *sound.

Examples of primer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Here is a primer on the history of Syria’s chemical stockpile, the effort to eliminate it and experts’ views on the new attack. Scott Shane, New York Times, "Weren’t Syria’s Chemical Weapons Destroyed? It’s Complicated," 7 Apr. 2017 And Sundance Now offers a film primer in preparation for the Trump presidency. Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times, "What’s on TV Tuesday: ‘Maggie’s Plan’ and ‘Throwing Shade’," 17 Jan. 2017 And Sundance Now offers a film primer in preparation for the Trump presidency. Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times, "What’s on TV Tuesday: ‘Maggie’s Plan’ and ‘Throwing Shade’," 17 Jan. 2017 Waldman really is a nerd (in a good way), and her book is an engaging and deeply researched primer on a taboo subject and a compelling case for more research on it. Nora Krug, Washington Post, "‘A Really Good Day’: One harried mom’s LSD experiment," 5 Jan. 2017 Give a volunteer a smart, witty, only occasionally poky primer on the science of reading. David Kipen, New York Times, "‘Language at the Speed of Sight’ Fights to Reopen Our Closed Book on Literacy," 28 Dec. 2016 (Quick primer: Shingles results from the same virus that causes chickenpox, which nearly all older Americans have had. Paula Span, New York Times, "Getting Shingles Despite the Shingles Vaccine OCT. 8, 2015," 2 Dec. 2016 Mr. Judah, a reporter for the Economist, also offers a travelogue, a primer on Ukrainian culture and an oral history of the country. Sohrab Ahmari, WSJ, "On the Frontlines of Putin’s War," 13 Oct. 2016 Lawmakers face an Oct. 31 deadline to choose a primer minister; otherwise, parliament would be dissolved and a new one elected in December. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "Spain’s Socialists Face Tough Choices to End Country’s Political Deadlock," 2 Oct. 2016

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

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for primer

Noun (1)

Middle English, layperson's prayer book, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin primarium, from Late Latin, neuter of primarius primary

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Statistics for primer

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Time Traveler for primer

The first known use of primer was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for primer

primer

noun
prim·​er | \ˈpri-mər \

Kids Definition of primer

1 : a small book for teaching children to read

2 : a book or other writing that introduces a subject

primer

noun
prim·​er | \ˈprī-mər \

Medical Definition of primer 

: a molecule (as a short strand of RNA or DNA) whose presence is required for formation of another molecule (as a longer chain of DNA)

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Comments on primer

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