pris·​tine ˈpri-ˌstēn How to pronounce pristine (audio)
 especially British  ˈpri-ˌstīn
: belonging to the earliest period or state : original
the hypothetical pristine lunar atmosphere
: not spoiled, corrupted, or polluted (as by civilization) : pure
a pristine forest
: fresh and clean as or as if new
used books in pristine condition
pristinely adverb

Did you know?

When pristine was anglicized in the 16th century, people borrowed the meanings of "early" and "original" from the Latin word pristinus and applied those meanings to what is desirable as well as to what is not. But it has long been a tendency of civilized people to admire a simpler and unsullied past. The supposition is that when things were in their oldest or original state, they were better. Thus, pristine was extended to describe the notion of an unspoiled, uncorrupted, or unpolluted state. And what is unspoiled or uncontaminated may connote the freshness and cleanness of something that has just been made, which explains how pristine has also come to mean "fresh and clean."

Example Sentences

My office is a mess but her office is always pristine. He was wearing a pristine white shirt.
Recent Examples on the Web An outdoor car cover is intended to help keep your car in pristine condition, no matter the weather. Alec Scherma, Good Housekeeping, 9 Jan. 2023 In addition, its resinous wood is so impervious to rot that multi-millennial trunks in pristine condition have been unearthed from riverine sediment. Jared Farmer, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Jan. 2023 As a result, it was presented in pristine condition. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 13 Dec. 2022 The freshwater environment and lack of wave activity at that depth had kept the vessel in pristine condition, except for corrosion of a few iron nails at each end of the ship. Taylor Nicioli, CNN, 12 Dec. 2022 And the vessels can easily steam to pristine waters nearby. Carlotta Gall, New York Times, 23 Oct. 2022 But Knaziev proudly pointed out the area’s relatively pristine condition under the circumstances, with municipal workers landscaping a public park, collecting detritus in a truck or fixing a light damaged in the blast. Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2022 The statue, which depicts the Trojan priest in his death throes, assailed by sea serpents, was found in remarkably pristine condition, but missing was Laocoön’s right arm. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 11 Feb. 2022 Their dominant shapes are pristine and eternal, but those perfect circles are lapped by blobs, blotches and squiggles that represent a cosmos in constant flux. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 13 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin pristinus; akin to Latin prior

First Known Use

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pristine was in 1534


Dictionary Entries Near pristine

Cite this Entry

“Pristine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


pris·​tine ˈpris-ˌtēn How to pronounce pristine (audio)
: not spoiled, polluted, or corrupted (as by civilization)
a pristine forest
: being fresh and clean
pristine new math books

More from Merriam-Webster on pristine

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