primordial

adjective
pri·mor·di·al | \prī-ˈmȯr-dē-əl \

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 \ 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

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 The real question, at least for me, is how, as a fan or chronicler, to reconcile that disturbing knowledge with the primordial pleasure that such hits arouse within us. Larry Stone, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor’s departure elicits feelings of admiration, guilt," 3 July 2018 Whether leftist, liberal or Khomeinist, leaders and opposition alike must bind their agendas to the logic that Iran is primordial, organic and continuous. Shervin Malekzadeh, Washington Post, "What Trump doesn’t get about ideology in Iran. It’s about nationalism, not theocracy.," 25 June 2018 Or reactions driven by Mars's ancient volcanoes could have formed the compounds from primordial carbon dioxide. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "NASA rover hits organic pay dirt on Mars," 7 June 2018 For these primordial policing machines, an arrest would not take long. Jeff Maysh, Smithsonian, "The Counterfeit Queen of Soul," 28 June 2018 But has clay, that most primordial matter, ever been significant enough as an art medium to merit killing off? Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "Ceramic art, once written off as mere craft, wins a brighter spotlight in the L.A. scene," 25 Apr. 2018 The dip meant that cosmic energy was being absorbed by primordial clouds of hydrogen gas that hung over the universe like a fog, but whose atoms had been thrown out of balance by the sudden presence of starlight. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, "When Stars Were Born: Earliest Starlight’s Effects Are Detected," 28 Feb. 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

27 Aug 2018

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

: existing from the beginning of time : very ancient

primordial

adjective
pri·mor·di·al | \prī-ˈmȯrd-ē-əl \

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

evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!