ru·​di·​ment | \ ˈrü-də-mənt How to pronounce rudiment (audio) \

Definition of rudiment

1 : a basic principle or element or a fundamental skill usually used in plural teaching themselves the rudiments of rational government— G. B. Galanti
2a : something unformed or undeveloped : beginning usually used in plural the rudiments of a plan
b(1) : a body part so deficient in size or structure as to be entirely unable to perform its normal function
(2) : an organ just beginning to develop : anlage

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from rudiment

rudimental \ ˌrü-​də-​ˈmen-​tᵊl How to pronounce rudimental (audio) \ adjective

Examples of rudiment in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Older adults often enrolled in noncredit courses, addressing topics such as home-buying, disco dancing and the rudiments of hockey. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Richard Ernst, who led Northern Virginia Community College for 30 years, dies at 86," 21 Aug. 2019 But his father dies suddenly, before passing on anything but the rudiments of the job. María Gainza, Harper's magazine, "Both Sides Now," 10 May 2019 On one such stone a pair of dotted squares flanking a thin rectangle, barely recognizable as the rudiments of a face, were enough to convey the presence of a goddess in a shrine of the first century AD. James Romm, The New York Review of Books, "‘The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East’," 18 Mar. 2019 Our fellow great apes understand the rudiments of language, and creatures great and small — from elephants to crows — seem to possess highly organized social structures, tool-making skills and self-awareness. John Wenz, Discover Magazine, "The Secret Origins of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence," 11 Feb. 2019 Papers like Johnson’s are beginning to build the rudiments of a theory of neural networks. Quanta Magazine, "Foundations Built for a General Theory of Neural Networks," 31 Jan. 2019 The sheer scale of the original pandemic meant that many were denied even the rudiments that medicine could offer a century ago. William F. Bynum, WSJ, "‘Pandemic 1918’ and ‘Influenza’ Review: Fire, Ice or Virus?," 4 Jan. 2019 What Sasser has found here is a kind of case law — and the rudiments of a justice system. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why we can’t stop debating whether Facebook sells data," 14 Dec. 2018 On the Senate Judiciary Committee, staffers from both parties are still organizing the rudiments of a confirmation process and have not yet focused on specific issues. Amy Goldstein,, "Judicial views on religion likely to figure into a fierce Supreme Court confirmation fight," 8 July 2018

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

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rudiment

Latin rudimentum beginning, from rudis raw, rude

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rudiment

Dictionary Entries near rudiment


rude shock






Statistics for rudiment

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rudiment

The first known use of rudiment was in 1534

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rudiment


ru·​di·​ment | \ ˈrü-də-mənt How to pronounce rudiment (audio) \

Kids Definition of rudiment

: a basic principle


ru·​di·​ment | \ ˈrüd-ə-mənt How to pronounce rudiment (audio) \

Medical Definition of rudiment

: an incompletely developed organ or part especially : an organ or part just beginning to develop : anlage

More from Merriam-Webster on rudiment

Spanish Central: Translation of rudiment

Nglish: Translation of rudiment for Spanish Speakers

Comments on rudiment

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


a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!