verb (used without object), primmed, prim·ming.
  1. to draw up the mouth in an affectedly nice or precise way.
verb (used with object), primmed, prim·ming.
  1. to make prim, as in appearance.
  2. to draw (one's face, lips, etc.) into a prim expression.

Origin of prim

First recorded in 1675–85; origin uncertain
Related formsprim·ly, adverbprim·ness, nounun·primmed, adjective

Synonyms for prim

Antonyms for prim Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for primness

Historical Examples of primness

  • She accepted with a slight recrudescence of primness; but her eyes did not leave him now.

    Tristram of Blent

    Anthony Hope

  • Yet he possessed humor enough, and there certainly was no primness about him.

  • "You must take pains to avoid me," said Dora, schooling her lips to primness.

    Double Harness

    Anthony Hope

  • I have always desired to look natty and I have spurts of primness.

    My Wonderful Visit

    Charlie Chaplin

  • It is not that we would have primness in the sex, but we would have refinement.


    Andrew P. Peabody

British Dictionary definitions for primness


adjective primmer or primmest
  1. affectedly proper, precise, or formal
verb prims, primming or primmed
  1. (tr) to make prim
  2. to purse (the mouth) primly or (of the mouth) to be so pursed
Derived Formsprimly, adverbprimness, noun

Word Origin for prim

C18: of unknown origin
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 primness


1680s (v.) "to assume a formal, precise demeanor," perhaps from French prim "thin, small, delicate," from Old French prim "fine, delicate," from Latin primus "finest," literally "first" (see prime (adj.)). Later, "deck out, dress to effect" (1721). Attested as a noun from 1700. The adjective, the sole surviving sense, is from 1709. A cant word at first. Related: Primly; primness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper