• synonyms


[prahy-muh l]
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  1. first; original; primeval: primal eras before the appearance of life on earth.
  2. of first importance; fundamental: the primal resources of a nation.
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Origin of primal

From the Medieval Latin word prīmālis, dating back to 1535–45. See prime, -al1
Related formsnon·pri·mal, adjective
Can be confusedprimal primeval primordial
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for primal


  1. first or original
  2. chief or most important
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Word Origin

C17: from Medieval Latin prīmālis, from Latin prīmus first
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 primal


c.1600, "belonging to the earliest age," from Medieval Latin primalis "primary," from Latin primus "first" (see prime (adj.)). Psychological sense, in reference to Freud's theory of behaviors springing from the earliest stage of emotional development, is attested from 1918. Primal scream is from a best-selling book of 1971.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

primal in Medicine


  1. Being first in time; original.
  2. Of first or central importance; primary.
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Related formspri•mali•ty (-mălĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.