first or highest in rank or importance; chief; principal: his primary goals in life.
first in order in any series, sequence, etc.
first in time; earliest; primitive.
of, relating to, or characteristic of primary school: the primary grades.
constituting or belonging to the first stage in any process.
of the nature of the ultimate or simpler constituents of which something complex is made up: Animals have a few primary instincts.
original; not derived or subordinate; fundamental; basic.
(in scholarly studies) pertaining to or being a firsthand account, original data, etc., or based on direct knowledge, as in primary source; primary research.
immediate or direct, or not involving intermediate agency: primary perceptions.
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.
Ornithology. pertaining to any of the set of flight feathers situated on the distal segment of a bird's wing.
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.
involving or obtained by replacement of one atom or group.
noting or containing a carbon atom united to no other or to only one other carbon atom in a molecule.
(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."
(of Latin, Greek, Sanskrit tenses) having reference to present or future time.: Compare secondary (def. 10).
something that is first in order, rank, or importance.
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.
Ornithology. a primary feather.
Electricity. a winding in a transformer or the like that carries a current and that induces a current in secondary windings.
a body in relation to a smaller body or smaller bodies revolving around it, as a planet in relation to its satellites.
the brighter of the two stars comprising a double star.: Compare companion1 (def. 6).
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.
U.S. Politics. to run as a candidate in a primary election.
- pri·ma·ri·ness, noun
- post·pri·ma·ry, adjective
- sub·pri·ma·ry, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024
How to use primary in a sentence
And if you don't use him as a primary source for anything relevant, you learn a lot indirectly.
Uprising is primary-source material that entertains while it educates.Egypt’s ‘Uprising,’ Then and Now: A Talk With Director Frederick Stanton | John Avlon | February 9, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
And Relin was not some hack hagiographer who regurgitated whatever his primary source told him.The Death of Co-Author of ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Is Ruled Suicide | Michael Daly | December 6, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
But Moynihan is wrong to say that we have not done additional primary source and archival research.Oliver Stone Defends His ‘The Untold History of the United States’ | Oliver Stone, Peter Kuznick | November 21, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
This is original primary-source material, but it is heavily redacted.
We find a like conception in the Aztec wind-god Tezcatlipoca, who was looked upon as the primary source of existence.The Myths of the North American Indians | Lewis Spence
What remained to be discovered was the feeders of this vast basin, and which among them was indeed the primary source of the Nile.Some Heroes of Travel | W. H. Davenport Adams
Ecstasy, imagination, and the unconscious are all convertible and synonymous terms for the primary source of poetry.The Literature of Ecstasy | Albert Mordell
The interference by social arrangements with Nature, God's work, is the primary source of corruption in individuals.Democracy and Education | John Dewey
The primary source of information on Benjamin Franklin is contained in his own writings.The Age of Invention | Holland Thompson
British Dictionary definitions for primary
first in importance, degree, rank, etc
first in position or time, as in a series
being the first stage; elementary
(prenominal) of or relating to the education of children up to the age of 11
(of the flight feathers of a bird's wing) growing from the manus
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
(of a current) flowing in such a circuit: Compare secondary
(of a product) consisting of a natural raw material; unmanufactured
(of an organic compound) having a functional group attached to a carbon atom that is attached to at least two hydrogen atoms
(of an amine) having only one organic group attached to the nitrogen atom; containing the group NH 2
(of a salt) derived from a tribasic acid by replacement of one acidic hydrogen atom with a metal atom or electropositive group
derived from a word that is not a derivation but the ultimate form itself. Lovable is a primary derivative of love
(of Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit tenses) referring to present or future time: Compare historic (def. 3)
geology relating to magmas that have not experienced fractional crystallization or crystal contamination
a person or thing that is first in rank, occurrence, etc
(in the US) : Full name: primary election
a local meeting of voters registered with one party to nominate candidates, select convention delegates, etc
See primary colour
any of the flight feathers growing from the manus of a bird's wing
a primary coil, winding, inductance, or current in an electric circuit
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
Scientific definitions for primary
Relating to a primary color.
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.
Relating to or having a carbon atom that is attached to only one other carbon atom in a molecule.
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.
Arising first and spontaneously, as a disease, disorder, or tumor, and not as a result of a known medical condition or injury.
Relating to the first set of teeth that develops in humans.
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. Compare secondary tertiary.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.