[ el-uh-men-tuh-ree, -tree ]
/ ˌɛl əˈmɛn tə ri, -tri /
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See synonyms for: elementary / elementariness on Thesaurus.com

pertaining to or dealing with elements, rudiments, or first principles: an elementary grammar.
of or relating to an elementary school: elementary teachers.
of the nature of an ultimate constituent; simple or uncompounded.
pertaining to the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, or to the great forces of nature; elemental.
Chemistry. of or noting one or more elements.
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Origin of elementary

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English elementare (from Middle French elementaire ), from Latin elementārius. See element, -ary

synonym study for elementary

1. Elementary, primary, rudimentary refer to what is basic and fundamental. Elementary refers to the introductory, simple, easy facts or parts of a subject that must necessarily be learned first in order to understand succeeding ones: elementary arithmetic. Primary may mean much the same as elementary; however, it usually emphasizes the idea of what comes first even more than that of simplicity: primary steps. Rudimentary applies to what is undeveloped or imperfect: a rudimentary form of government.



elemental, elementary
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does elementary mean?

Elementary describes the basics or beginning steps of something. Elementary lessons in soccer, for example, might include how to dribble the ball.

The most common use of elementary in the US is in the phrase elementary school, the first few years of schooling, when the basics of reading, math, and other important subjects are taught. An elementary teacher is someone who teaches in elementary school and an elementary math book is a book with math lessons aimed at elementary schoolchildren.

Elementary can also be used in the context of chemical elements, which are a class of substances that cannot be broken down into simpler substances. In older scientific studies and belief systems, the Earth was believed to be elementarily comprised of four elements: earth, fire, water, and air.

Related to that, something that is elementary is simple or uncompounded.

Example: Times tables are simply elementary, so I do not need a calculator.

Where does elementary come from?

The first records of the term elementary come from the 1400s. It ultimately comes from the Latin elementārius, meaning “of one of the four elements.” The four elements were once considered the simple building blocks that make up nature.

Elementary is famous in popular culture as a supposed catchphrase for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. The phrase “It is elementary, my dear Watson,” was popularized by fans of the detective series but was never actually said by the character. Holmes did often use the word elementary, however,  when explaining his deductions. Doyle’s use of elementary makes his character appear smarter than the average person.

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What are some other forms related to elementary?

  • elementarily (adverb)
  • elementariness (noun)
  • nonelementary (adjective)
  • postelementary (adjective)

What are some synonyms for elementary?

What are some words that share a root or word element with elementary?

What are some words that often get used in discussing elementary?

How is elementary used in real life?

Elementary is usually used to describe something basic or to suggest something difficult is actually easy.

Try using elementary!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for elementary?

A. elemental
B. basic
C. simple
D. secondary

How to use elementary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for elementary

/ (ˌɛlɪˈmɛntərɪ, -trɪ) /

not difficult; simple; rudimentary
of or concerned with the first principles of a subject; introductory or fundamental
maths (of a function) having the form of an algebraic, exponential, trigonometric, or a logarithmic function, or any combination of these
chem another word for elemental (def. 5)

Derived forms of elementary

elementarily, adverbelementariness, noun
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