noun, plural sec·ond·ar·ies.

Origin of secondary

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Latin word secundārius. See second1, -ary
Related formssec·ond·ar·i·ly [sek-uhn-der-uh-lee, sek-uhn-dair-] /ˈsɛk ənˌdɛr ə li, ˌsɛk ənˈdɛər-/, adverbsec·ond·ar·i·ness, noun

Synonyms for secondary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for secondary

Contemporary Examples of secondary

Historical Examples of secondary

  • We know what she was, and it is of secondary importance where she went or what she did.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • The world's opinion ought to be but a secondary consideration.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • What I am to my family, my country, myself, is all secondary.

  • Whether it was just, or honorable, or kind, is a secondary consideration.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • It is especially the authorities of secondary schools who have raised opposition.

British Dictionary definitions for secondary



one grade or step after the first; not primary
derived from or depending on what is primary, original, or firsta secondary source
below the first in rank, importance, etc; not of major importance
(prenominal) of or relating to the education of young people between the ages of 11 and 18secondary education
(of the flight feathers of a bird's wing) growing from the ulna
  1. being the part of an electric circuit, such as a transformer or induction coil, in which a current is induced by a changing current in a neighbouring coila secondary coil
  2. (of a current) flowing in such a circuitCompare primary (def. 7)
(of an industry) involving the manufacture of goods from raw materialsCompare primary (def. 8b), tertiary (def. 2)
geology (of minerals) formed by the alteration of pre-existing minerals
  1. (of an organic compound) having a functional group attached to a carbon atom that is attached to one hydrogen atom and two other groups
  2. (of an amine) having only two organic groups attached to a nitrogen atom; containing the group NH
  3. (of a salt) derived from a tribasic acid by replacement of two acidic hydrogen atoms with metal atoms or electropositive groups
  1. derived from a word that is itself a derivation from another word. Thus, lovably comes from lovable and is a secondary derivative from love
  2. (of a tense in Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit) another word for historic (def. 3)

noun plural -aries

a person or thing that is secondary
a subordinate, deputy, or inferior
a secondary coil, winding, inductance, or current in an electric circuit
ornithol any of the flight feathers that grow from the ulna of a bird's wingSee primary (def. 6)
astronomy a celestial body that orbits around a specified primary bodythe moon is the secondary of the earth
med a cancerous growth in some part of the body away from the site of the original tumour
American football
  1. the secondarycornerbacks and safeties collectively
  2. their area in the field
Derived Formssecondarily, adverbsecondariness, noun
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 secondary

late 14c., from Latin secundarius "pertaining to the second class, inferior," from secundus (see second (adj.)). Of colors, from 1831; of education, from 1809. Of sex characteristics from 1780. Opposed to primary or principal. Related: Secondarily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for secondary




Of the second rank; not primary.
Minor; lesser.
Derived from what is primary or original.
Of or relating to a chemical compound characterized or formed by replacement of two atoms or radicals within a molecule.
Of, relating to, or being a degree of health care intermediate between that offered in a physician's office and that available at a research hospital, as the care typically offered at a clinic or community hospital.
Related formssec′ond•ari•ly (-dârə-lē) adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for secondary



Relating to a secondary color.
Relating to or derived from either of the lateral meristems (the cork cambium or the vascular cambium) of vascular plants. For example, secondary xylem in a stem is produced by the vascular cambium, as opposed to primary xylem produced by the apical meristem during the original growth of the stem from a seedling. See also secondary growth.
  1. Relating to or having a carbon atom that is attached to two other carbon atoms in a molecule.
  2. Relating to an organic molecule, such as an alcohol, in which the functional group is attached to a secondary carbon.
Relating to a medical condition that arises as a result of another disorder, disease process, or injury. Compare primary tertiary.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.