• synonyms


[prahy-meyt or especially for 1, prahy-mit]
  1. Ecclesiastical. an archbishop or bishop ranking first among the bishops of a province or country.
  2. 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.
  3. Archaic. a chief or leader.
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Origin of primate

1175–1225; Middle English primat dignitary, religious leader < Late Latin prīmāt- (stem of prīmās), noun use of Latin prīmās of first rank, derivative of prīmus first (see prime); (def 2) taken as singular of New Latin Primates Primates, as if ending in -ate1
Related formspri·ma·tal, adjective, nounpri·ma·tial [prahy-mey-shuh l] /praɪˈmeɪ ʃəl/, pri·mat·i·cal [prahy-mat-i-kuh l] /praɪˈmæt ɪ kəl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for primatial

Historical Examples

  • And when the primatial see was revived at Armagh by the pope that old church was made the cathedral of Ireland.

    One Irish Summer

    William Eleroy Curtis

  • Many other prerogatives were inherent in the primatial dignity till they were swept away by the revolution of 1848.

  • The primatial see of Armagh was vacant at the accession of Elizabeth, and remained so until 1563.

  • Declining the high office of provost of Trinity, Ussher was made bishop of Meath and was afterwards promoted to the primatial see.

    The Glories of Ireland

    Edited by Joseph Dunn and P.J. Lennox

  • In France the primatial sees and the course of appeals to them were well established (Fournier, p. 219).

British Dictionary definitions for primatial


  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
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  1. of, relating to, or belonging to the order Primates
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Derived Formsprimatial (praɪˈmeɪʃəl), adjective

Word Origin

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


  1. another name for archbishop
  2. Primate of all England the Archbishop of Canterbury
  3. Primate of England the Archbishop of York
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Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for primatial



"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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

primatial in Medicine


  1. A mammal of the order Primates, which includes the anthropoids and prosimians, characterized by refined development of the hands and feet, a shortened snout, and a large brain.
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Related formspri•matial (-māshəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

primatial in Science


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