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noun, plural pri·ma·cies for 2, 3.
  1. the state of being first in order, rank, importance, etc.
  2. Also called primateship. English Ecclesiastics. the office, rank, or dignity of a primate.
  3. Roman Catholic Church. the jurisdiction of a bishop, as a patriarch, over other bishoprics, or the supreme jurisdiction of the pope as supreme bishop.
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Origin of primacy

1350–1400; Middle English primacie < Medieval Latin prīmātia, alteration of Latin prīmātus (prīm(us) prime + -ātus -ate3); see -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for primacy


noun plural -cies
  1. the state of being first in rank, grade, etc
  2. Christianity the office, rank, or jurisdiction of a primate or senior bishop or (in the Roman Catholic Church) the pope
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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 primacy


late 14c., from Old French primacie (14c., in Modern French spelled primatie) and directly from Medieval Latin primatia "office of a church primate" (late 12c.), from Late Latin primas (genitive primatis) "principal, chief, of the first rank" (see primate).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper