adj. & n.
adj. 1 a of the first importance; chief (that is our primary concern). b fundamental, basic. 2 earliest, original; first in a series. 3 of the first rank in a series; not derived (the primary meaning of a word). 4 designating any of the colours red, green, and blue, or for pigments red, blue, and yellow, from which all other colours can be obtained by mixing. 5 (of a battery or cell) generating electricity by irreversible chemical reaction. 6 (of education) for young children, esp. below the age of 11. 7 (Primary) Geol. of the lowest series of strata. 8 Biol. belonging to the first stage of development. 9 (of an industry or source of production) concerned with obtaining or using raw materials. 10 Gram. (of a tense in Latin and Greek) present, future, perfect, or future perfect (cf. HISTORIC).
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a thing that is primary. 2 (in full primary election) (in the US) a preliminary election to appoint delegates to a party conference or to select the candidates for a principal (esp. presidential) election. 3 = primary planet. 4 (Primary) Geol. the Primary period. 5 = primary feather. 6 = primary coil. primary coil a coil to which current is supplied in a transformer. primary feather a large flight-feather of a bird's wing. primary planet a planet that directly orbits the sun (cf. secondary planet). primary school a school where young children are taught, esp. below the age of 11. primarily adv.
[ ME f. L primarius f. primus first ]