primeval

adjective pri·me·val \ prī-ˈmē-vəl \

Definition of primeval

1 :of or relating to the earliest ages (as of the world or human history) :ancient, primitive
  • 100 acres of primeval forest which has never felt an ax
  • —Mary R. Zimmer
2 :primordial 1b

primevally

play \-və-lē\ adverb

primeval was our Word of the Day on 01/09/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of primeval in a Sentence

  1. primeval forests slowly disappearing as the climate changed

Recent Examples of primeval from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'primeval.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

First things first. "Primeval" comes from the Latin words primus, meaning "first, and aevum, meaning "age." In Latin, those terms were brought together to form "primaevus," a word that means "of or relating to the earliest ages." Other English words that descend from "primus" include "prime" and "primary," "primordial" (a synonym of "primeval"), and "primitive." "Primus" also gave rise to some terms for folks who are number one in charge, including "prince" and "principal."

Origin and Etymology of primeval

Latin primaevus, from primus first + aevum age — more at aye


PRIMEVAL Defined for English Language Learners

primeval

adjective

Definition of primeval for English Language Learners

  • : very old or ancient

  • : basic and powerful


PRIMEVAL Defined for Kids

primeval

adjective pri·me·val \ prī-ˈmē-vəl \

Definition of primeval for Students

:belonging to the earliest time :primitive
  • … wild dogs ranged in packs through the primeval forest …
  • —Jack London, The Call of the Wild

Word Root of primeval

The Latin word primus, meaning “first,” gives us the root prim. Words from the Latin primus have something to do with being first. Anything primary comes first in importance or order. Anything primeval belongs to a period of time that came first, before the present. Anything primitive also belongs to an earlier time.



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