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90s Slang You Should Know


[prim] /prɪm/
adjective, primmer, primmest.
formally precise or proper, as persons or behavior; stiffly neat.
verb (used without object), primmed, primming.
to draw up the mouth in an affectedly nice or precise way.
verb (used with object), primmed, primming.
to make prim, as in appearance.
to draw (one's face, lips, etc.) into a prim expression.
Origin of prim1
First recorded in 1675-85; origin uncertain
Related forms
primly, adverb
primness, noun
unprimmed, adjective
1. prissy, formal, rigid.
1. flexible. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for primness
Historical Examples
  • "They have a curious, mingled air of primness and gayety, as if gayety were not quite proper," the artist began.

    Their Pilgrimage Charles Dudley Warner
  • She accepted with a slight recrudescence of primness; but her eyes did not leave him now.

    Tristram of Blent Anthony Hope
  • His primness, if that is the right word, never altogether deserted him.

    The Art of Letters Robert Lynd
  • "You must take pains to avoid me," said Dora, schooling her lips to primness.

    Double Harness Anthony Hope
  • Grey was her only concession to colour, and her gowns and bonnets were of a primness which belonged to the past.

    A Modern Chronicle, Complete Winston Churchill
  • The primness of her was indescribable, and was not at all ruffled by Dan's hoot of derision.

    The Golden Road Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • "This is such a jolly place," cried Adela, who seemed to have left all her primness at Brighton.

    Bluebell Mrs. George Croft Huddleston
  • Who would have dreamed that behind her primness all this frolic lay in ambush?

    Lady Baltimore Owen Wister
  • Lady Enville—for she was the taker of the siesta—was as free from any appearance of angularity or primness as possible.

    Clare Avery Emily Sarah Holt
  • But as soon as they caught a look or a smile meant just for them their primness melted.

    Green Valley Katharine Reynolds
British Dictionary definitions for primness


adjective primmer, primmest
affectedly proper, precise, or formal
verb prims, primming, primmed
(transitive) to make prim
to purse (the mouth) primly or (of the mouth) to be so pursed
Derived Forms
primly, adverb
primness, noun
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin
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 primness


1680s (v.) "to assume a formal, precise demeanor," perhaps from French prim "thin, small, delicate," from Old French prim "fine, delicate," from Latin primus "finest," literally "first" (see prime (adj.)). Later, "deck out, dress to effect" (1721). Attested as a noun from 1700. The adjective, the sole surviving sense, is from 1709. A cant word at first. Related: Primly; primness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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