primitive

adjective
prim·​i·​tive | \ˈpri-mə-tiv \

Definition of primitive 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : not derived : original, primary

b : assumed as a basis especially : axiomatic primitive concepts

2a : 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

3a : 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

primitive

noun

Definition of primitive (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : something primitive specifically : a primitive idea, term, or proposition

b : a root word

2a(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

3a : a member of a primitive people

b : an unsophisticated person

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Other Words from primitive

Adjective

primitively adverb
primitiveness noun
primitivity \ˌpri-​mə-​ˈti-​və-​tē \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for primitive

Synonyms: Adjective

crude, low, rude, rudimentary

Antonyms: Adjective

advanced, developed, evolved, high, higher, late

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Examples of primitive in a Sentence

Adjective

the time when primitive man first learned to use fire The technology they used was primitive and outdated. The camp had only a primitive outdoor toilet.

Noun

The museum is known for its collection of American primitives.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Houde said these mammoth animals are a primitive group of proboscideans ('elephantoids') from which modern elephants evolved. Joseph J. Kolb, Fox News, "10 year-old trips into million-year-old dinosaur fossil discovery in New Mexico," 18 July 2017 Many are primitive and remote, and don’t have restrooms or water. OregonLive.com, "20 last-minute places to stay for the solar eclipse in Oregon," 12 July 2017 Here's how to tackle a daunting job A primitive drip irrigation system could be cobbled together by running water through an old garden hose that's riddled with holes along its length and has its end plugged. Lee Reich, Detroit Free Press, "Drip your garden to productivity and health," 7 July 2017 The park offers primitive and RV camping with 41 campsites, 30 of which feature 30- to 50-amp electric, water and sewer. Joe Songer | Jsonger@al.com, AL.com, "The greatest outdoor adventure you can have in each Alabama county," 22 June 2017 Constructed in front of the stone ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, that caveman-evocative set provides a suitably primitive stomping ground for the monstrous Caliban. Mike Giuliano, Howard County Times, "'The Tempest' is outdoors but hopefully not overhead," 23 June 2017 A lot of the campgrounds are primitive, and lack some common amenities - including water. Jamie Hale, OregonLive.com, "As fire season, solar eclipse align, Oregon prepares for disaster," 6 July 2017 South Beach Campground, a primitive campground located just south of Kalaloch is open through September 25. Brian J. Cantwell, The Seattle Times, "Rialto Beach road to reopen, astronomy sessions set as Olympic National Park marks birthday," 28 June 2017 Can primitive materials bring us closer to our origins? Daisy Alioto, GQ, "Inside Magazzino, Upstate New York’s Next Great Art Escape," 23 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Desperately seeking coherence, the author blunders into a binary world-view, divided between civilized softies and pugnacious primitives, wallers and warriors. Felipe Fernández-armesto, WSJ, "‘Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick’ Review: . . . and Stay Out!," 13 Sep. 2018 If a devastating cryptographic attack against one of WireGuard's underlying primitives is discovered, a new WireGuard protocol will be devised as a total package. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "WireGuard VPN review: A new type of VPN offers serious advantages," 26 Aug. 2018 Over 250 vendors with antiques, vintage jewelry and furniture, primitives, architectural elements, mid-century collectibles, Americana and memorabilia. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 9-15," 9 July 2018 Over 250 vendors with antiques, vintage jewelry and furniture, primitives, architectural elements, mid-century collectibles, Americana and memorabilia. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 9-15," 9 July 2018 Over 250 vendors with antiques, vintage jewelry and furniture, primitives, architectural elements, mid-century collectibles, Americana and memorabilia. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 9-15," 9 July 2018 Over 250 vendors with antiques, vintage jewelry and furniture, primitives, architectural elements, mid-century collectibles, Americana and memorabilia. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 9-15," 9 July 2018 Over 250 vendors with antiques, vintage jewelry and furniture, primitives, architectural elements, mid-century collectibles, Americana and memorabilia. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 9-15," 9 July 2018 Over 250 vendors with antiques, vintage jewelry and furniture, primitives, architectural elements, mid-century collectibles, Americana and memorabilia. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 9-15," 9 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of primitive

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for primitive

Adjective

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

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Statistics for primitive

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Time Traveler for primitive

The first known use of primitive was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for primitive

primitive

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of primitive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

English Language Learners Definition of primitive (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

adjective
prim·​i·​tive | \ˈpri-mə-tiv \

Kids Definition of primitive

1 : of or belonging to very early times primitive cultures

2 : of or belonging to an early stage of development primitive tools

primitive

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

Other Words from primitive

primitively adverb

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Comments on primitive

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