[prahy-muh-jen-i-cher, -choo r]


the state or fact of being the firstborn of children of the same parents.
Law. the system of inheritance or succession by the firstborn, specifically the eldest son.

Origin of primogeniture

1585–95; < Medieval Latin prīmōgenitūra a first birth, equivalent to Latin prīmō at first + genitūra, equivalent to genit(us) (past participle of gignere to beget; see kin) + -ūra -ure
Related formspri·mo·gen·i·tar·y, pri·mo·gen·i·tal, adjectivepri·mo·gen·i·ture·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for primogeniture

Contemporary Examples of primogeniture

  • The modern equivalent of primogeniture in the U.S., as Schine sees it, is divorce.

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    The Daily Beast

    February 18, 2010

Historical Examples of primogeniture

  • We need not hesitate to attribute the change to the influence of Primogeniture.

    Ancient Law

    Sir Henry James Sumner Maine

  • Here then emerges the historical difficulty of Primogeniture.

    Ancient Law

    Sir Henry James Sumner Maine

  • Socially it appears far more just and reasonable than the custom of primogeniture.

    Medival Wales

    A. G. Little

  • Then occurred an extraordinary hitch in the history of primogeniture.

    Shakespeare's Family

    Mrs. C. C. Stopes

  • Yet in the case of primogeniture our opinion would have to be modified.

British Dictionary definitions for primogeniture



the state of being a first-born
law the right of an eldest son to succeed to the estate of his ancestor to the exclusion of all othersCompare ultimogeniture
Derived Formsprimogenitary (ˌpraɪməʊˈdʒɛnɪtərɪ, -trɪ), adjective

Word Origin for primogeniture

C17: from Medieval Latin prīmōgenitūra birth of a first child, from Latin prīmō at first + Late Latin genitūra a birth
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 primogeniture

"right of succession of the first-born," c.1600, from French primogeniture and directly from Medieval Latin primogenitura, from Late Latin primogenitus "first-born," from Latin primo (adv.) "first in order of time," from primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + genitus, past participle of gignere "to beget" (see genus). Earlier it meant simply "fact of being first-born" (1590s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

primogeniture in Culture


[(preye-moh-jen-uh-choor, preye-moh-jen-uh-chuhr)]

A system of inheritance in which land passes exclusively to the eldest son. Until the Industrial Revolution, this system severely restricted the freedom of younger sons, who were often forced into the military or the clergy to earn a living.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.