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primer1

[prim-er or, esp. British, prahy-mer]
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noun
  1. an elementary book for teaching children to read.
  2. any book of elementary principles: a primer of phonetics.
  3. great primer.
  4. long primer.
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Origin of primer1

1350–1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin prīmārium, noun use of neuter of prīmārius primary

primer2

[prahy-mer]
noun
  1. a person or thing that primes.
  2. a cap, cylinder, etc., containing a compound that may be exploded by percussion or other means, used for firing a charge of powder.
  3. a first coat or layer of paint, size, etc., given to any surface as a base, sealer, or the like.
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Origin of primer2

1490–1500; prime (v.) + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for primers

primers

pl n
  1. NZ informal the youngest class in a primary school
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primer1

noun
  1. an introductory text, such as a school textbook
  2. printing See long primer, great primer
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Word Origin

C14: via Anglo-Norman from Medieval Latin primārius (liber) a first (book), from Latin prīmārius primary

primer2

noun
  1. a person or thing that primes
  2. a device, such as a tube containing explosive, for detonating the main charge in a gun, mine, etc
  3. a substance, such as paint, applied to a surface as a base, sealer, etc
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Also called (for senses 2, 3): priming

Word Origin

C15: see prime (vb)
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 primers

primer

n.1

late 14c., "prayer-book," also "school book" (senses not distinguished in Middle Ages, as reading was taught from prayer books), from Medieval Latin primarius, from Latin primus "first" (see prime (adj.)). The word also might be all or in part from prime (n.) on the same notion as a "Book of Hours." Meaning "small introductory book on any topic" is from 1807.

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primer

n.2

"explosive cap," 1819, agent noun from prime (v.).

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primer

n.3

"first layer of dye or paint," 1680s, from prime (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper