• synonyms


or pri·mae·val

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  1. of or relating to the first age or ages, especially of the world: primeval forms of life.
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Origin of primeval

1765–75; < Latin prīmaev(us) young (prīm(us) prime + aev(um) age + -us adj. suffix) + -al1
Related formspri·me·val·ly, adverb
Can be confusedprimal primeval primordial


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for primeval

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • In the heart of a primeval forest we could not feel more alone.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • Or would the planet revert to a primeval state of mindless innocence?

  • Indeed, at that time the settlements had not reached into this then primeval wilderness.


    Samuel T. Pickard

  • For these giants of the primeval forest he ever had a loving admiration.


    Samuel T. Pickard

  • It brought Pedro in with an extraordinary, uncouth, primeval impetuosity.


    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for primeval



  1. of or belonging to the first age or ages, esp of the world
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Derived Formsprimevally or primaevally, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Latin prīmaevus youthful, from prīmus first + aevum age
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 primeval


also primaeval, 1650s, with -al (1) + Latin primaevus "early in life, youthful," from primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + aevum "an age" (see eon).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper