1

primitive

play
adjective prim·i·tive \ ˈpri-mə-tiv \

Definition of primitive

1 a :not derived :original, primary
b :assumed as a basis; especially :axiomatic
  • primitive concepts
2 a :of or relating to the earliest age or period :primeval
  • the primitive church
b :closely approximating an early ancestral type :little evolved
  • primitive mammals
c :belonging to or characteristic of an early stage of development :crude, rudimentary
  • primitive technology
d :of, relating to, or constituting the assumed parent speech of related languages
  • primitive Germanic
3 a :elemental, natural
  • our primitive feelings of vengeance
  • —John Mackwood
b now sometimes offensive :of, relating to, or produced by a people or culture that is nonindustrial and often nonliterate and tribal
  • primitive art
c :naive
d (1) :self-taught, untutored
  • primitive craftsmen
(2) :produced by a self-taught artist
  • a primitive painting

primitively

adverb

primitiveness

noun

primitivity

play \ˌpri-mə-ˈti-və-tē\ noun

Examples of primitive in a Sentence

  1. the time when primitive man first learned to use fire

  2. The technology they used was primitive and outdated.

  3. The camp had only a primitive outdoor toilet.

Recent Examples of primitive from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of primitive

Middle English primitif, from Latin primitivus first formed, from primitiae first fruits, from primus first — more at prime


2

primitive

noun

Definition of primitive

1 a :something primitive; specifically :a primitive idea, term, or proposition
b :a root word
2 a (1) :an artist of an early period of a culture or artistic movement
(2) :a later imitator or follower of such an artist
b (1) :a self-taught artist
(2) :an artist whose work is marked by directness and naïveté
c :a work of art produced by a primitive artist
d :a typically rough or simple usually handmade and antique home accessory or furnishing
3 a :a member of a primitive people
b :an unsophisticated person

Examples of primitive in a Sentence

  1. The museum is known for its collection of American primitives.

Recent Examples of primitive from the Web

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

Other Anthropology Terms


PRIMITIVE Defined for English Language Learners

primitive

play
adjective

Definition of primitive for English Language Learners

  • : of, belonging to, or seeming to come from an early time in the very ancient past

  • : not having a written language, advanced technology, etc.

  • : very simple and basic : made or done in a way that is not modern and that does not show much skill


primitive

noun

Definition of primitive for English Language Learners

  • : an artist who makes art in a simple style that is childlike; also : the art made by such an artist

  • : someone who belongs to a primitive society


PRIMITIVE Defined for Kids

primitive

play
adjective prim·i·tive \ ˈpri-mə-tiv \

Definition of primitive for Students

1 :of or belonging to very early times
  • primitive cultures
2 :of or belonging to an early stage of development
  • primitive tools

Word Root of primitive

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.


Medical Dictionary

primitive

play
adjective prim·i·tive \ ˈprim-ət-iv \

medical Definition of primitive

1 :closely approximating an early ancestral type :little evolved
2 :belonging to or characteristic of an early stage of development
  • primitive cells

primitively

adverb


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