1765–75; < New Latin, plural of Latinprīmās one of the first, chief, principal. See primate
[prahy-meyt or especially for 1, prahy-mit]
Ecclesiastical. an archbishop or bishop ranking first among the bishops of a province or country.
any of various omnivorous mammals of the order Primates, comprising the three suborders Anthropoidea (humans, great apes, gibbons, Old World monkeys, and New World monkeys), Prosimii (lemurs, loris, and their allies), and Tarsioidea (tarsiers), especially distinguished by the use of hands, varied locomotion, and by complex flexible behavior involving a high level of social interaction and cultural adaptability.
Archaic. a chief or leader.
Origin of primate
1175–1225;Middle Englishprimat dignitary, religious leader < Late Latinprīmāt- (stem of prīmās), noun use of Latinprīmās of first rank, derivative of prīmus first (see prime); (def 2) taken as singular of New LatinPrimatesPrimates, as if ending in -ate1
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
of, relating to, or belonging to the order Primates
Derived Formsprimatial (praɪˈmeɪʃəl), adjective
Word Origin for primate
C18: from New Latin primates, plural of prīmās principal, from prīmus first
"high bishop," c.1200, from Old French primat and directly from Medieval Latin primatem (nominative primas) "church primate," noun use of Late Latin adjective primas "of the first rank, chief, principal," from primus "first" (see prime (adj.)).
Meaning "animal of the biological order including monkeys and humans" is attested from 1876, from Modern Latin Primates (Linnæus), from plural of Latin primas; so called from supposedly being the "highest" order of mammals (originally also including bats).
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 order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes, and human beings. Primates are distinguished from other animals in that they generally possess limbs capable of performing a variety of functions, hands and feet adapted for grasping (including opposable thumbs), flattened snouts, and other anatomical features. (SeeLinnean classification.)