primordial

adjective
pri·​mor·​di·​al | \ prī-ˈmȯr-dē-əl How to pronounce primordial (audio) \

Definition of primordial

1a : first created or developed : primeval sense 1
b : existing in or persisting from the beginning (as of a solar system or universe) a primordial gas cloud
c : earliest formed in the growth of an individual or organ : primitive primordial cells
2 : fundamental, primary primordial human joys— Sir Winston Churchill

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from primordial

primordially \ prī-​ˈmȯr-​dē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce primordially (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for primordial

Synonyms

ancient, early, primal, primeval, primitive

Antonyms

late

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

The history of "primordial" began when the Latin words primus (meaning "first") and "ordiri" (meaning "to begin") came together to form "primordium," the Latin word for "origin." When it entered English in the 14th century, "primordial" was used in the general sense "primeval." Early on, there were hints that "primordial" would lend itself well to discussions of the earth's origins. Take, for instance, this passage from a 1398 translation of an encyclopedia called On the Properties of Things: "The virtu of God made primordial mater, in the whiche as it were in massy thinge the foure elementis were . . . nought distinguishd." Nowadays, primordial matter is often referred to in evolutionary theory as "primordial soup," a mixture of organic molecules from which life on earth originated.

Examples of primordial in a Sentence

all life on Earth supposedly came from a primordial ooze in existence many millions of years ago

Recent Examples on the Web

As loggers have cut and cleared the forests the caribou need to survive, the last mountain caribou in Washington are being pushed out of their primordial habitat. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "David Moskowitz captures the beauty — and fragility — of the Northwest’s mountain caribou," 11 Feb. 2019 In nature, they're formed from primordial germ cells and can be seen as precursors to egg cells. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Take Major Step Towards Making Babies From Skin Cells," 21 Sep. 2018 The researchers expect that, within five years, primordial gravitational waves will be detected. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Inflation theories must dig deeper to avoid collision with data," 6 Dec. 2018 Roughly 5,000 years old, Newgrange symbolizes, as Mr. MacGregor notes, primordial religion’s sponsorship of technological expertise. Andrew Stark, WSJ, "‘Living With the Gods’ Review: The Gang’s All Here," 16 Nov. 2018 With a diameter of about 3,000 feet (900 meters), Ryugu is one of 17,000 known near-Earth asteroids, and it's made up of some of the most primordial material in the solar system. Megan Gannon, Space.com, "'Crazy' Rocky Surface of Asteroid Ryugu Revealed in MASCOT Lander Images," 13 Oct. 2018 So far, though, the scientists have yet to discover the primordial drawing tool itself. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Is This the World’s Oldest Hashtag?," 12 Sep. 2018 Well, our theory certainly predicts that primordial gravitational waves should be there at some level. Alexander Hellemans, Scientific American, "A Conversation with Thomas Hertog, One of Stephen Hawking’s Final Collaborators," 24 May 2018 Brain battle between distrust and reward As in all animals, human brains balance two primordial systems. Leslie Henderson, Scientific American, "Why Our Brains See the World as "Us" versus "Them"," 22 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of primordial

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for primordial

Middle English, from Late Latin primordialis, from Latin primordium origin, from primus first + ordiri to begin — more at prime, order

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about primordial

Share primordial

Listen to Our Podcast about primordial

Statistics for primordial

Last Updated

26 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for primordial

The first known use of primordial was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for primordial

primordial

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of primordial

formal : existing from the beginning of time : very ancient

primordial

adjective
pri·​mor·​di·​al | \ prī-ˈmȯrd-ē-əl How to pronounce primordial (audio) \

Medical Definition of primordial

: earliest formed in the growth of an individual or organ : primitive the primordial skeleton

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on primordial

What made you want to look up primordial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!