pri·​or·​i·​ty | \ prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē How to pronounce priority (audio) , -ˈär-\
plural priorities

Definition of priority

1a(1) : the quality or state of being prior
(2) : precedence in date or position of publication used of taxa
b(1) : superiority in rank, position, or privilege
(2) : legal precedence in exercise of rights over the same subject matter
2 : a preferential rating especially : one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply that project has top priority
3 : something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for priority


precedence, right-of-way

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of priority in a Sentence

Reorganizing the sales force will be a top priority for the new president. Getting the work done on time is a priority for me. She decided to go to the party instead of studying? Where are her priorities? I know you want to buy a new stereo, but right now, saving for college has to take priority.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

This promotional money was a big priority for House Speaker Bob DeLeo. Jon Chesto,, "Restaurant group scores two key victories in state budget," 6 Aug. 2019 David Ely, San Diego State University YES: Addressing the housing shortage, especially the urgent need for low-income housing, must be a high priority for San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Econometer: Should San Diego developers be allowed to put low-income apartments in different buildings?," 2 Aug. 2019 Numerous surveys show that health reform remains a top priority for Americans, who are concerned about high costs, access, and choice. Marie Fishpaw, National Review, "A Health Plan for President Trump," 1 Aug. 2019 Unauthorized immigrants who did not fall within these categories were not a priority for enforcement action. Emily Ryo, The Conversation, "How ICE enforcement has changed under the Trump administration," 29 July 2019 Still, integration remains a priority for district officials and parents who have been willing to alter the program over the years but have refused to scrap it. John Eligon, New York Times, "Busing Worked in Louisville. So Why Are Its Schools Becoming More Segregated?," 28 July 2019 Climate change was very much a priority for Johnson during his term as mayor of London, however. Nathanial Gronewold, Science | AAAS, "Boris Johnson’s stance on climate change has flip-flopped," 25 July 2019 Maintaining the status quo of four competitors — even if T-Mobile and Sprint are allowed to combine — has apparently been a priority for the Department of Justice antitrust chief Makan Delrahim. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Dish reportedly reaches deal with T-Mobile and Sprint to become the new fourth major US carrier," 24 July 2019 That was a priority for small-website owners such as Aileen Luib, a blogger who writes about fashion and lifestyle and lives in Moreno Valley (Riverside County). Dustin Gardiner,, "Fight to change California’s landmark consumer privacy law fizzles — for now," 21 July 2019

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about priority

Statistics for priority

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for priority

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for priority



English Language Learners Definition of priority

: something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first
US : the things that someone cares about and thinks are important
: the condition of being more important than something or someone else and therefore coming or being dealt with first


pri·​or·​i·​ty | \ prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē How to pronounce priority (audio) \
plural priorities

Kids Definition of priority

: a condition of being more important than other things


pri·​or·​i·​ty | \ prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē How to pronounce priority (audio) \
plural priorities

Legal Definition of priority

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: precedence in exercise of rights in the same subject matter secured interests have priority over unsecured ones



Legal Definition of priority (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having precedence over another in the exercise of rights in the same subject matter a priority creditor a priority claim
2 : of or relating to priority a priority contest

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on priority

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with priority

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for priority

Spanish Central: Translation of priority

Nglish: Translation of priority for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of priority for Arabic Speakers

Comments on priority

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


a period when something is suspended

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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