[prahy-awr-i-tee, -or-]
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noun, plural pri·or·i·ties for 2–4.
  1. the state or quality of being earlier in time, occurrence, etc.
  2. the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc.; precedence.
  3. the right to take precedence in obtaining certain supplies, services, facilities, etc., especially during a shortage.
  4. something given special attention.
  1. highest or higher in importance, rank, privilege, etc.: a priority task.

Origin of priority

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French priorite < Medieval Latin priōritās. See prior1, -ity
Related formsnon·pri·or·i·ty, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for priority


noun plural -ties
  1. the condition of being prior; antecedence; precedence
  2. the right of precedence over others
  3. something given specified attentionmy first priority
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 priority

late 14c., "state of being earlier," from Old French priorite (14c.), from Medieval Latin prioritatem (nominative prioritas) "fact or condition of being prior," from Latin prior (see prior (adj.)). From c.1400 as "precedence in right or rank."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper