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adjective, prim·mer, prim·mest.
  1. formally precise or proper, as persons or behavior; stiffly neat.
verb (used without object), primmed, prim·ming.
  1. to draw up the mouth in an affectedly nice or precise way.
verb (used with object), primmed, prim·ming.
  1. to make prim, as in appearance.
  2. to draw (one's face, lips, etc.) into a prim expression.

Origin of prim1

First recorded in 1675–85; origin uncertain
Related formsprim·ly, adverbprim·ness, nounun·primmed, adjective


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. prissy, formal, rigid.


1. flexible.


  1. privet.

Origin of prim2

First recorded in 1565–75; shortening of earlier primprint privet < ?
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for prims

Historical Examples

  • Now, there—you see how powerful the propaganda of the Prims can be?

    Two Plus Two Makes Crazy

    Walt Sheldon

  • It was one of the pamphlets the Prims were always leaving around.

  • It was midnight when the Prims and their guests arose from the table.

    The Oakdale Affair

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

British Dictionary definitions for prims


adjective primmer or primmest
  1. affectedly proper, precise, or formal
verb prims, primming or primmed
  1. (tr) to make prim
  2. to purse (the mouth) primly or (of the mouth) to be so pursed
Derived Formsprimly, adverbprimness, 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

Word Origin and History for prims


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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