\ ˈprim How to pronounce prim (audio) \
primmed; primming

Definition of prim

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to give a prim or demure expression to primming her thin lips after every mouthful— John Buchan
2 : to dress primly
primmer; primmest

Definition of prim (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : stiffly formal and proper : decorous
2 : neat, trim prim hedges

Definition of prim (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from prim


primly adverb
primness noun

Examples of prim in a Sentence

Adjective He has prim views on religion. Her aunts were very prim and proper.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Those of us who grew up on a steady diet of Disney movies knew which characters we were supposed to root for: the prim, pretty, cookie-cutter princess types whose traditional appearances and demure, doe-like behavior signaled their heroine status. Emily Ruane,, "Heidi Klum Launched Disney Villains’ Merch On Amazon — & It’s A Mood," 3 Dec. 2020 Glenda, who is 68 and has lived at Bronxwood for over seven years, wears square transition lenses and tucks her gray hair into a prim, low bun. Ava Kofman, ProPublica, "“We Don’t Even Know Who Is Dead or Alive”: Trapped Inside an Assisted Living Facility During the Pandemic," 30 Nov. 2020 The courtroom is a stage, and the judge has planned for the play to be a prim farce. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "The Sensuality and Brutality of Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe”," 23 Nov. 2020 Ashley, meanwhile, excels as her more prim counterpart, and both mug expertly for the camera. Anne Cohen,, "The Olsen Twins’ It Takes Two Is More Radical Than You Remember," 17 Nov. 2020 At a time when AIDS was considered a terminal illness and HIV-positive people faced discrimination, Ms. Cornett jolted the pageant’s prim reputation and made headlines for bringing her pro-condom message into schools. Washington Post, "Leanza Cornett, Miss America who was crusading AIDS activist, dies at 49," 29 Oct. 2020 Of course, Sevigny, who always takes a laissez-faire approach to her clothes, put her own spin on the prim look while on her walk. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Chloë Sevigny Turns Her Dress Into a Skirt While Walking," 22 Oct. 2020 In the early 1900s, long before Ferris played hooky in his, a prim sweater vest was the sort of thing a tony aristocrat would have worn to keep warm while fox hunting. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Sick of Your Zoom Shirt? Add a Ferris Bueller-Inspired Vest," 6 Oct. 2020 South Dakota’s first poet laureate lived much of his life alone in a prim cabin in the heart of Custer State Park. Carson Vaughan, Smithsonian Magazine, "Saddle Up With Badger Clark, America’s Forgotten Cowboy Poet," 17 Sep. 2020

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


1707, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1702, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for prim


earlier as intransitive verb, "to assume a formal or demure air," of obscure origin

Note: First attested in the comedies of Thomas d'urfey, as Fool's Preferment (1688) and The Marriage-Hater Match'd (1692). Akin in sense to primp, attested earlier, though the verb as well as the adjective primp "(of the mouth) pursed, primly set" are nearly exclusive to Scots and American English.


derivative of or akin to prim entry 1

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Cite this Entry

“Prim.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for prim

English Language Learners Definition of prim

: very formal and proper
: easily shocked or upset by rude behavior, comments, etc.
: very neat in appearance
\ ˈprim How to pronounce prim (audio) \
primmer; primmest

Kids Definition of prim

: very formal and proper

Other Words from prim

primly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on prim

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prim

Nglish: Translation of prim for Spanish Speakers

Comments on prim

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