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[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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for primness
Historical Examples
  • She accepted with a slight recrudescence of primness; but her eyes did not leave him now.

    Tristram of Blent Anthony Hope
  • Yet he possessed humor enough, and there certainly was no primness about him.

  • "You must take pains to avoid me," said Dora, schooling her lips to primness.

    Double Harness Anthony Hope
  • I have always desired to look natty and I have spurts of primness.

    My Wonderful Visit Charlie Chaplin
  • It is not that we would have primness in the sex, but we would have refinement.

    Conversation Andrew P. Peabody
  • But the general environment of laxity only produced a primness in her.

  • The primness of her was indescribable, and was not at all ruffled by Dan's hoot of derision.

    The Golden Road Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Fanny recoiled at the idea with a primness that did credit to Winnebago.

    Fanny Herself Edna Ferber
  • There was no more silence and primness after the minister's wife entered.

    Jane Field Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • His primness, if that is the right word, never altogether deserted him.

    The Art of Letters

    Robert Lynd
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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