primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē How to pronounce primary (audio) , ˈprī-mə-rē, ˈprīm-rē How to pronounce primary (audio) \

Essential Meaning of primary

1 : most important : main our primary [=principal] objective/goal The economy was the primary focus of the debate. Your safety is our primary [=foremost] concern.
2 : most basic or essential primary needs The family is the primary social unit of human life. The primary function of our schools is to educate our young people.
3 : happening or coming first the primary [=initial] stage of a civilization We just started our primary flight training.

Full Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : first in order of time or development : primitive the primary stage of civilization the primary lesion of a disease
2a : of first rank, importance, or value : principal the primary purpose
b : basic, fundamental security is a primary need
c : of, relating to, or constituting the principal flight feathers of a bird's wing
d : of or relating to agriculture, forestry, and the extractive industries or their products
e : expressive of present or future time primary tense
f : of, relating to, or constituting the strongest of the three or four degrees of stress recognized by most linguists the first syllable of basketball carries primary stress
3a : direct, firsthand primary sources of information
b : not derivable from other colors, odors, or tastes
c : preparatory to something else in a continuing process primary instruction
d : of or relating to a primary school primary education
e : of or relating to a primary election a primary candidate
f : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications primary nerves
g : directly derived from ores primary metals
h : of, relating to, or being the amino acid sequence in proteins primary protein structure
4 : resulting from the substitution of one of two or more atoms or groups in a molecule a primary amine especially : being or characterized by a carbon atom having a bond to only one other carbon atom
5 : of, relating to, involving, or derived from primary meristem primary tissue primary growth
6 : of, relating to, or involved in the production of organic substances by green plants primary productivity
7 : providing primary care a primary physician

primary

noun
plural primaries

Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that stands first in rank, importance, or value : fundamental usually used in plural
2 : the celestial body around which one or more other celestial bodies revolve especially : the more massive usually brighter component of a binary star system
3 : one of the usually 9 or 10 strong flight feathers on the distal joint of a bird's wing — see wing illustration
b : the sensation of seeing primary colors
5a : caucus
b : an election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office, choose party officials, or select delegates for a party convention
6 : the coil that is connected to the source of electricity in an induction coil or transformer

called also primary coil

Examples of primary in a Sentence

Adjective The economy was the primary focus of the debate. The family is the primary social unit of human life. The primary function of our schools is to educate our young people. We just started our primary flight training. The book is based mainly on primary sources rather than secondary sources.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Ravens defense has been far more prone to busts than in years past, which is a primary reason the Ravens rank 32nd in the NFL defending the pass and 29th in yards per pass attempt. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, 20 Nov. 2021 That’s the final day for candidates to file for the 2022 primary elections. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, 18 Nov. 2021 Their votes drew backlash from others in the party — with conservatives threatening to challenge them in primary elections next year — and even death threats from constituents. USA TODAY, 17 Nov. 2021 In deep blue Prince George’s, primary elections tend to be decisive. Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2021 Candidates must file for office by mid-March with primary elections held in June. Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2021 Twenty-three Utah cities and towns took part in this pilot project, which eliminated primary elections and instead had voters rank their favorite choices. Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Nov. 2021 At this stage in the game, the primary reason for the House to move forward on the vote is two-fold: to release the infrastructure bill and to release the weeks upon weeks of building pressure. Phil Mattingly, CNN, 5 Nov. 2021 Looking towards 2022, sending state-specific reminders for the primary elections that will take place next spring and summer, and the general election in November are effective approaches to keep employees informed and engaged. Meteorite, Forbes, 29 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If a candidate makes it to the general election, an individual can give a total of $5,800 to the candidate, $2,900 for the primary and $2,900 for the general. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Nov. 2021 Since winning the Democratic primary in June, Mr. Bragg has been more reserved. New York Times, 24 Nov. 2021 Even though Holness and Sharief didn’t win the November primary, their resignations are irrevocable, and now their seats — which pay $105,885 a year — become empty in January. Wells Dusenbury, sun-sentinel.com, 23 Nov. 2021 McBath will now run in Georgia's 7th Congressional District, likely setting up an intra-party primary between her and first-term Rep. Carolyn Bordeaux in what will now be a safe blue district. Alisa Wiersema, ABC News, 23 Nov. 2021 Candidates for the June 28 primary will file paperwork between March 7 and March 14, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Mike Nolan, chicagotribune.com, 22 Nov. 2021 Candidates could begin raising campaign funds on May 24, a year before the primary. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, 22 Nov. 2021 Former Vice President Mike Pence returns next month to New Hampshire, the state that for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House. Paul Steinhauser, Fox News, 21 Nov. 2021 McKinney said Belaga came out of the late-season primary with a bump in the polls but little money for the general election. Mark Pazniokas, courant.com, 21 Nov. 2021

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

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First Known Use of primary

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primary

Adjective

Middle English primarye, primary "original, earliest," borrowed from Latin prīmārius "of the highest importance or station (of persons), first-rate, chief" (Late Latin, "original, lying at the beginning," Medieval Latin, "foremost, leading"), from prīmus "first, foremost, earliest, of first importance" + -ārius -ary entry 2 — more at prime entry 2

Noun

in part borrowed from Late Latin prīmārius "person leading, leader," noun derivative of Latin prīmārius "of the highest importance or station, chief, primary entry 1"; in part noun derivative of primary entry 1, or shortened from collocations with the adjective; (sense 5) shortened from primary election, earlier primary assembly, translation of French assemblée primaire

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Time Traveler for primary

Time Traveler

The first known use of primary was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near primary

primariness

primary

primary accent

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Statistics for primary

Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Primary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/primary. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for primary

primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē How to pronounce primary (audio) , -mə-rē \

Kids Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : first in time or development the primary grades
2 : most important : main primary duties
3 : not made or coming from something else : basic the primary source of information
4 : relating to or being the heaviest of three levels of stress in pronunciation

primary

noun
plural primaries

Kids Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

: an election in which members of a political party nominate candidates for office

primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē How to pronounce primary (audio) , ˈprīm-(ə-)rē How to pronounce primary (audio) \

Medical Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : first in order of time or development
(2) : relating to or being the milk teeth and especially the 20 milk teeth in the human set
b(1) : arising spontaneously : idiopathic primary insomnia the absence of any pelvic abnormality confirmed the diagnosis of primary dysmenorrhea
(2) : being an initial tumor or site especially of cancer efforts to find the primary tumor have failed— Raphael Feinmesser
c : providing primary care a primary physician
2 : not derivable from other colors, odors, or tastes
3 : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications primary nerves
4 : of, relating to, or being the amino acid sequence in proteins primary protein structure — compare secondary sense 3, tertiary entry 2 sense 2c
5 : resulting from the substitution of one of two or more atoms or groups in a molecule especially : being or characterized by a carbon atom having a bond to only one other carbon atom

primary

noun
plural primaries

Medical Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

primary

adjective
pri·​ma·​ry | \ ˈprī-ˌmer-ē, -mə-rē How to pronounce primary (audio) \

Legal Definition of primary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of first rank, value, or importance
2 : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications

Other Words from primary

primarily \ prī-​ˈmer-​ə-​lē How to pronounce primary (audio) \ adverb

primary

noun
plural primaries

Legal Definition of primary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : caucus
2 : an election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office, choose party officials, or select delegates for a party convention

More from Merriam-Webster on primary

Nglish: Translation of primary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of primary for Arabic Speakers

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