[ prahy-meyt or, especially for 1, prahy-mit ]
See synonyms for: primateprimates on

  1. Ecclesiastical. an archbishop or bishop ranking first among the bishops of a province or country.

  2. Anthropology, Zoology. any of various worldwide omnivorous mammals of the order Primates, comprising, by modern classification, two suborders, the strepsirrhines (lemurs, lorises, and their allies) and the haplorhines (tarsiers, New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, and apes, including humans), especially distinguished by the use of hands, varied locomotion, and complex behavior involving a high level of social interaction and cultural adaptability: many primates are strictly arboreal, but even among the numerous terrestrial species, some arboreal behavior is common.

  1. Archaic. a chief or leader.

Origin of primate

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English, Anglo-French, Old French primat “dignitary, religious leader, archbishop,” from Late Latin prīmāt- (stem of prīmās), noun use of Latin prīmās “of first rank, principal, chief,” derivative of prīmus “first”; (def. 2) taken as singular of New Latin Primātēs, name of the taxonomic order; -ate as if from the suffix -ate ; see origin at prime,Primates, -ate1

Other words from primate

  • pri·ma·tal, adjective, noun
  • pri·ma·tial [prahy-mey-shuhl], /praɪˈmeɪ ʃəl/, pri·mat·i·cal [prahy-mat-i-kuhl], /praɪˈmæt ɪ kəl/, adjective

Words Nearby primate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use primate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for primate (1 of 2)


/ (ˈpraɪmeɪt) /

  1. any placental mammal of the order Primates, typically having flexible hands and feet with opposable first digits, good eyesight, and, in the higher apes, a highly developed brain: includes lemurs, lorises, monkeys, apes, and man

  1. of, relating to, or belonging to the order Primates

Origin of primate

C18: from New Latin primates, plural of prīmās principal, from prīmus first

Derived forms of primate

  • primatial (praɪˈmeɪʃəl), adjective

British Dictionary definitions for primate (2 of 2)


/ (ˈpraɪmeɪt) /

  1. another name for archbishop

  2. Primate of all England the Archbishop of Canterbury

  1. Primate of England the Archbishop of York

Origin of primate

C13: from Old French, from Latin prīmās principal, from 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

Scientific definitions for primate


[ prīmāt′ ]

  1. Any of various mammals of the order Primates, having a highly developed brain, eyes facing forward, a shortened nose and muzzle, and opposable thumbs. Primates usually live in groups with complex social systems, and their high intelligence allows them to adapt their behavior successfully to different environments. Lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans are primates.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.