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

Other Words from primordial

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for primordial



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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 Begin by restoring your desk to a more primordial state. Nina Molina, WSJ, 5 May 2022 Light is an intervention; darkness is original, primordial, the backdrop against which conception is forged. Suzannah Showler, Harper’s Magazine , 27 Apr. 2022 If astronomers ever detect primordial gravitational waves — and efforts are ongoing — these will be the first signs of inflation to look for. Quanta Magazine, 10 Nov. 2021 The experiment may have found primordial gravitational waves. Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2014 The comics' Gorr has a deadly cloak of tendrils and wields the god-killing All-Black the Necrosword, forged by the same primordial deity who created the symbiotes who eventually became Venom. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 18 Apr. 2022 Outside, people were getting up at dawn to hunt for scarce groceries on delivery apps, trying to beat back the primordial fear of hunger. Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2022 In Jewish mythology, Leviathan was a primordial sea serpent, something malevolent, chaotic, uncontrollable, and beyond human comprehension. Joseph Loconte, National Review, 2 Apr. 2022 Within the galaxy, study author Brian Welch, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University, found the primordial star sitting at the top of the lensing critical curve, or where the magnification is most intense, Science Alert reports. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of primordial

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

History and Etymology for primordial

Middle English, borrowed from Late Latin prīmōrdiālis, from Latin prīmōrdium (in plural prīmōrdia) "beginnings, origin, source, elementary stage" (from prīmus "first, earliest" + ōrd-, base of ōrdīrī "to lay a warp for weaving, embark on, begin" + -ium, deverbal suffix of function or state) + -ālis -al entry 1 — more at prime entry 2, order entry 2

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Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Primordial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for primordial


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

More from Merriam-Webster on primordial

Nglish: Translation of primordial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of primordial for Arabic Speakers


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