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[prahy-muh l] /ˈpraɪ məl/
first; original; primeval:
primal eras before the appearance of life on earth.
of first importance; fundamental:
the primal resources of a nation.
Origin of primal
From the Medieval Latin word prīmālis, dating back to 1535-45. See prime, -al1
Related forms
nonprimal, adjective
Can be confused
primal, primeval, primordial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for primal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Desire, said William Law, is everything and does everything; it is the primal motive-power.

    Ruysbroeck Evelyn Underhill
  • The mass of men live not by logic, but by primal instincts and passions.

    The Negro and the Nation George S. Merriam
  • We must never lose sight of one great, central, primal fact.

    Solaris Farm Milan C. Edson
  • This primal mover is immaterial; for its essence is in energy.

    Christianity and Greek Philosophy Benjamin Franklin Cocker
  • She gave an inarticulate moan—a word of that primal language common to all creation in its moments of anguish.

    Meg's Friend Alice Abigail Corkran
British Dictionary definitions for primal


first or original
chief or most important
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin prīmālis, from Latin prīmus first
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for primal

c.1600, "belonging to the earliest age," from Medieval Latin primalis "primary," from Latin primus "first" (see prime (adj.)). Psychological sense, in reference to Freud's theory of behaviors springing from the earliest stage of emotional development, is attested from 1918. Primal scream is from a best-selling book of 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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primal in Medicine

primal pri·mal (prī'məl)

  1. Being first in time; original.

  2. Of first or central importance; primary.

pri·mal'i·ty (-māl'ĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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