View synonyms for primary


[ prahy-mer-ee, -muh-ree ]


  1. first or highest in rank or importance; chief; principal:

    his primary goals in life.

    Synonyms: prime, main

    Antonyms: last

  2. first in order in any series, sequence, etc.

    Antonyms: final, last

  3. first in time; earliest; primitive.

    Synonyms: primeval, original

  4. of, relating to, or characteristic of primary school:

    the primary grades.

  5. constituting or belonging to the first stage in any process.

    Synonyms: opening, beginning

  6. of the nature of the ultimate or simpler constituents of which something complex is made up:

    Animals have a few primary instincts.

    1. original; not derived or subordinate; fundamental; basic.
    2. (in scholarly studies) pertaining to or being a firsthand account, original data, etc., or based on direct knowledge, as in primary source primary research
  7. immediate or direct, or not involving intermediate agency:

    primary perceptions.

  8. Sociology. (of social values or ideals) conceived as derived from the primary group and culturally defined as being necessary to the welfare of the individual and society.
  9. Ornithology. pertaining to any of the set of flight feathers situated on the distal segment of a bird's wing.
  10. Electricity. noting or pertaining to the circuit, coil, winding, or current that induces current in secondary windings in an induction coil, transformer, or the like.
  11. Chemistry.
    1. involving or obtained by replacement of one atom or group.
    2. noting or containing a carbon atom united to no other or to only one other carbon atom in a molecule.
  12. Grammar.
    1. (of a derivative) having a root or other unanalyzable element as the underlying form:

      The word "dole" is a primary derivative formed by modification of "deal," and "phonograph" is a primary derivative from "phono-" and "-graph."

    2. (of Latin, Greek, Sanskrit tenses) having reference to present or future time. Compare secondary ( def 10 ).


, plural pri·ma·ries.
  1. something that is first in order, rank, or importance.
  2. U.S. Politics.
    1. Also called primary election. a preliminary election in which voters of each party nominate candidates for office, party officers, etc. Compare closed primary, direct primary, indirect primary, open primary.
    2. a meeting of the voters of a political party in an election district for nominating candidates for office, choosing delegates for a convention, etc.; caucus.
  3. Ornithology. a primary feather.
  4. Electricity. a winding in a transformer or the like that carries a current and that induces a current in secondary windings.
  5. Astronomy.
    1. a body in relation to a smaller body or smaller bodies revolving around it, as a planet in relation to its satellites.
    2. the brighter of the two stars comprising a double star. Compare companion 1( def 6 ).

verb (used with object)

, pri·ma·ried, pri·ma·ry·ing.
  1. U.S. Politics. to challenge or oppose (the incumbent) in a primary election, usually for strong ideological reasons (often used in passive constructions):

    The congressman was primaried by a more conservative candidate.

verb (used without object)

, pri·ma·ried, pri·ma·ry·ing.
  1. U.S. Politics. to run as a candidate in a primary election.


/ ˈpraɪmərɪ /


  1. first in importance, degree, rank, etc
  2. first in position or time, as in a series
  3. fundamental; basic
  4. being the first stage; elementary
  5. prenominal of or relating to the education of children up to the age of 11
  6. (of the flight feathers of a bird's wing) growing from the manus
    1. being the part of an electric circuit, such as a transformer or induction coil, in which a changing current induces a current in a neighbouring circuit

      a primary coil

    2. (of a current) flowing in such a circuit Compare secondary
    1. (of a product) consisting of a natural raw material; unmanufactured
    2. (of production or industry) involving the extraction or winning of such products. Agriculture, fishing, forestry, hunting, and mining are primary industries Compare secondary tertiary
  7. chem
    1. (of an organic compound) having a functional group attached to a carbon atom that is attached to at least two hydrogen atoms
    2. (of an amine) having only one organic group attached to the nitrogen atom; containing the group NH 2
    3. (of a salt) derived from a tribasic acid by replacement of one acidic hydrogen atom with a metal atom or electropositive group
  8. linguistics
    1. derived from a word that is not a derivation but the ultimate form itself. Lovable is a primary derivative of love
    2. (of Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit tenses) referring to present or future time Compare historic
  9. geology relating to magmas that have not experienced fractional crystallization or crystal contamination
“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


  1. a person or thing that is first in rank, occurrence, etc
  2. in the US Full nameprimary election
    1. a preliminary election in which the voters of a state or region choose a party's convention delegates, nominees for office, etc See also closed primary direct primary open primary
    2. a local meeting of voters registered with one party to nominate candidates, select convention delegates, etc
  3. any of the flight feathers growing from the manus of a bird's wing
  4. a primary coil, winding, inductance, or current in an electric circuit
  5. astronomy a celestial body around which one or more specified secondary bodies orbit

    the sun is the primary of the earth

“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


/ prīmĕr′ē /

  1. Relating to a primary color.
  2. Relating to plant tissues or growth derived from the apical meristem in the tips of roots and shoots, whose cells divide and elongate to cause the plant to grow lengthwise.
    1. Relating to or having a carbon atom that is attached to only one other carbon atom in a molecule.
    2. Relating to an organic molecule, such as an alcohol, in which the functional group is attached to a primary carbon. A primary alcohol, for example, has the hydroxyl (OH) group attached to the last carbon in a chain.
    1. Arising first and spontaneously, as a disease, disorder, or tumor, and not as a result of a known medical condition or injury.
    2. Relating to the first set of teeth that develops in humans.
  3. Relating to the initial medical care given by a healthcare provider to a patient, especially in a setting of ambulatory, continuous care, and sometimes followed by referral to other medical providers.
  4. Compare secondary

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Other Words From

  • prima·ri·ness noun
  • post·prima·ry adjective
  • sub·prima·ry adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of primary1

First recorded in 1425–75; (adjective) late Middle English, from Latin prīmārius “of the first rank, chief.” See prime, -ary
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Word History and Origins

Origin of primary1

C15: from Latin prīmārius of the first rank, principal, from prīmus first
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Synonym Study

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Example Sentences

The primary piece of Clubhouse’s user recommendation engine relies on access to your contacts.

From Vox

She says they would benefit the entire region, but primary El Salvador because the Legislative Assembly has either blocked or ignored.

His primary concern, however, is helping lift Schalke from the bottom of the Bundesliga.

The commission’s primary collection method is to send letters, but they weren’t sent on time and, in some cases, weren’t sent at all, the audit found.

It is also documented that coyotes are a primary predator of urban Canada goose nests.

Scruff believes that sex is not the primary concern of users.

He has picked pre-primary brawls with Christie, Perry, and Marco Rubio.

“You try to always scratch where the itch is,” Huckabee said about his campaigning and rhetoric in the 2008 primary.

Even then, most of us doubted he would show up and actually sign the papers allowing him to enter the 1992 New Hampshire primary.

It was Dec. 20, 1991, the deadline for the New Hampshire primary.

Besides this fundamental or primary vibration, the movement divides itself into segments, or sections, of the entire length.

What the ear hears is the fundamental pitch only; the overtones harmonize with the primary or fundamental tone, and enrich it.

That—and no existing institution and no current issue—is the primary concern of the present age.

He also instituted primary schools in every commune, and started an cole Normale for the training of teachers.

Primary anemia is that which progresses without apparent cause.





primarilyprimary accent