[ sek-uhn-der-ee ]
See synonyms for: secondarysecondaries on

  1. next after the first in order, place, time, etc.

  2. belonging or pertaining to a second order, division, stage, period, rank, grade, etc.

  1. dependent on or generated by something more basic; derivative.

  2. (in scholarly studies) pertaining to or being a derived or derivative account, an evaluation of original data, etc.; not primary or original, as in secondary source; secondary research.

  3. of minor or lesser importance; subordinate; auxiliary.

  4. of or relating to secondary schools.

  5. Chemistry.

    • involving or obtained by the replacement of two atoms or groups.

    • noting or containing a carbon atom united to two other carbon atoms in a chain or ring molecule.

  6. Electricity. noting or pertaining to the current induced by a primary winding or to the winding in which the current is induced in an induction coil, transformer, or the like.

  7. Geology. noting or pertaining to a mineral produced from another mineral by decay, alteration, or the like.

  8. Grammar.

    • (of a derivative) having a root or other unanalyzable element that is itself a word or free form: The word “glazier” is a secondary derivative formed by adding a suffix to “glaze.” The word "debatably" is formed directly from "debatable" and is therefore a secondary derivative from "debate."

    • having reference to past time; noting or pertaining to a past tense: the Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit secondary tenses.: Compare primary (def. 13).

  9. Ornithology. pertaining to any of a set of flight feathers on the second segment of a bird's wing.

  10. Linguistics. of, relating to, or characteristic of a secondary accent: secondary stress.

noun,plural sec·ond·ar·ies.
  1. a person or thing that is secondary.

  2. a subordinate, assistant, deputy, or agent.

  1. Electricity. a winding in a transformer or the like in which a current is induced by a primary winding.

  2. Ornithology. a secondary feather.

  3. Football. the defensive unit that lines up behind the linemen.

  4. Linguistics. secondary accent.

Origin of secondary

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Latin word secundārius.See second1, -ary

Other words for secondary

Other words from secondary

  • sec·ond·ar·i·ly [sek-uhn-der-uh-lee, sek-uhn-dair-], /ˈsɛk ənˌdɛr ə li, ˌsɛk ənˈdɛər-/, adverb
  • sec·ond·ar·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use secondary in a sentence

  • The organized Delegates—priestly, kingly, nobilitary, or warlike—the secondary source.

  • His was difficult pioneer-work, and carried through with the drawback of working on a secondary source.

    The Bbur-nma in English | Babur, Emperor of Hindustan

British Dictionary definitions for secondary


/ (ˈsɛkəndərɪ, -drɪ) /

  1. one grade or step after the first; not primary

  2. derived from or depending on what is primary, original, or first: a secondary source

  1. below the first in rank, importance, etc; not of major importance

  2. (prenominal) of or relating to the education of young people between the ages of 11 and 18: secondary education

  3. (of the flight feathers of a bird's wing) growing from the ulna

    • 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 coil: a secondary coil

    • (of a current) flowing in such a circuit: Compare primary (def. 7)

  4. (of an industry) involving the manufacture of goods from raw materials: Compare primary (def. 8b), tertiary (def. 2)

  5. geology (of minerals) formed by the alteration of pre-existing minerals

  6. chem

    • (of an organic compound) having a functional group attached to a carbon atom that is attached to one hydrogen atom and two other groups

    • (of an amine) having only two organic groups attached to a nitrogen atom; containing the group NH

    • (of a salt) derived from a tribasic acid by replacement of two acidic hydrogen atoms with metal atoms or electropositive groups

  7. linguistics

    • derived from a word that is itself a derivation from another word. Thus, lovably comes from lovable and is a secondary derivative from love

    • (of a tense in Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit) another word for historic (def. 3)

nounplural -aries
  1. a person or thing that is secondary

  2. a subordinate, deputy, or inferior

  1. a secondary coil, winding, inductance, or current in an electric circuit

  2. ornithol any of the flight feathers that grow from the ulna of a bird's wing: See primary (def. 6)

  3. astronomy a celestial body that orbits around a specified primary body: the moon is the secondary of the earth

  4. med a cancerous growth in some part of the body away from the site of the original tumour

  5. American football

    • the secondary cornerbacks and safeties collectively

    • their area in the field

Derived forms of secondary

  • secondarily, adverb
  • secondariness, 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

Scientific definitions for secondary


[ sĕkən-dĕr′ē ]

  1. Relating to a secondary color.

  2. 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.

    • Relating to or having a carbon atom that is attached to two other carbon atoms in a molecule.

    • Relating to an organic molecule, such as an alcohol, in which the functional group is attached to a secondary carbon.

  1. 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.