primogeniture

noun
pri·​mo·​gen·​i·​ture | \ˌprī-mō-ˈje-nə-ˌchu̇r, -chər, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌtu̇r\

Definition of primogeniture 

1 : the state of being the firstborn of the children of the same parents

2 : an exclusive right of inheritance belonging to the eldest son

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In many civilizations, past and present, the state of being the oldest among siblings is a key component of inheritance law. Primogeniture, which first appeared in English in the early 17th century, derives from the Late Latin primogenitura, a combination of the Latin primus ("first") and genitura ("birth"), from the past participle of gignere ("to beget"). For those who are youngest in birth order, a similar word applies - ultimogeniture - but this word is newer (first appearing in English in 1882) and much less common.

Examples of primogeniture in a Sentence

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When Charles Martel died in 1295, his young son Carobert should have been next in line according to the law of primogeniture. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018 But during his reign, Sweden’s law of absolute primogeniture was passed. Madeleine Luckel, Vogue, "Should the Swedish Royal Family Be Your New Obsession? An Introduction," 31 May 2018 For hundreds of years, the laws of succession to the British throne have followed male-preference primogeniture –placing all brothers ahead of sisters in line for the crown. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "Why Princess Charlotte Just Made Royal History," 24 Apr. 2018 The Succession to the Crown Act, subsequently passed by Parliament in 2013, formalized that the succession order would follow absolute – or gender-blind – primogeniture. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "Why Princess Charlotte Just Made Royal History," 24 Apr. 2018 Well into the 21st century British law favored male primogeniture, or that a male child has a greater right to the throne than a female child. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "The New Royal Baby Will Be 5th in Line to the Throne—But It Wasn’t Always That Way," 23 Apr. 2018 Shortly before older brother George was born, British law changed to make birth order the determining factor in succession, replacing gender — male primogeniture — as the default rule that developed over 10 centuries. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Royal baby: Kate Middleton in 'early stages ' of labor, palace says," 23 Apr. 2018 For example, the United Kingdom abolished primogeniture in 2015, ahead of the birth of Prince George. Diana Pearl, PEOPLE.com, "PEOPLE Explains: Why Women In Japan's Imperial Family Must Give Up Their Royal Status to Marry Commoners," 7 Feb. 2018 This put an end to the old-fashioned system of male preference primogeniture — where princes would take precedence over their older sisters. Kate Samuelson, Time, "Here's How Kate Middleton and Prince William's Royal Baby Just Changed the Succession to the British Throne," 23 Apr. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primogeniture

Late Latin primogenitura, from Latin primus + genitura birth, from genitus, past participle of gignere

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

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More Definitions for primogeniture

primogeniture

noun
pri·​mo·​gen·​i·​ture | \ˌprī-mō-ˈje-nə-ˌchu̇r \

Legal Definition of primogeniture 

1 : the state of being the firstborn of the children of the same parents

2 : exclusive right of inheritance specifically : a right to take all the real property of an estate belonging under English law to the eldest son or eldest male in the next degree of consanguinity if there is no son of an ancestor to the exclusion of all female and younger male descendants

More from Merriam-Webster on primogeniture

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about primogeniture

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