Meaning of PRIME in English


I. prime 1 AC /praɪm/ BrE AmE adjective [only before noun]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: French ; Origin: Latin primus 'first' ]

1 . most important SYN main :

Smoking is the prime cause of lung disease.

Our prime concern is providing jobs for all young school leavers.

He was named as the prime suspect in the murder investigation.

Good management is of prime importance in business.

2 . of the very best quality or kind:

prime rib of beef

prime agricultural land

The hotel is in a prime location overlooking the valley.

3 . be a prime candidate/target (for something) to be the person or thing that is most suitable or most likely to be chosen for a particular purpose:

The school is a prime candidate for closure.

Old people are a prime target for thieves.

4 . prime example a very typical example of something:

Blakey Hall is a prime example of a 19th-century building.

• • •


▪ main larger or more important than all the others:

the main entrance of the building


the main reason for his decision

▪ chief/principal most important. Chief and principal are more formal than main , and are often used in written English:

Coffee is the country’s principal export.


What is the company’s chief objective?

▪ major very important or serious:

Smoking is a major cause of heart disease.


Street crime is becoming a major problem.

▪ key most important, or the one that everything or everyone else depends on:

Education is likely to be a key issue in the election campaign.


Hooper was a key member of the team.


Diet is key.

▪ number one especially spoken most important or best - this phrase sounds a little informal and it is used especially in spoken English:

Reliability is the number one priority.


the number one cause of death


He is still in the number one position.

▪ primary most important - used especially about the most important aim, role, cause, or concern. Primary is more formal than main :

The primary aim of the project was to help students develop their communication skills.


Security is our primary concern.


The primary function of the university was considered to be the teaching of ‘the great cultural disciplines’.

▪ prime very important or most important - used especially about the most important reason, cause, or aim, or about the most likely ↑ target or ↑ suspect . Prime is more formal than main :

Their prime objective is to increase profits for their shareholders.


Tourists are prime targets for theft and robbery.

▪ core most important - used especially about the things that people should pay most attention to:

the core skills of reading and writing


He wants the company to focus on its core business - advertising.


The party’s core values are individual freedom and reducing the amount of government bureaucracy.

▪ central most important and having more influence than anything else:

The U.S. played a central role in the peace negotiations.


a central theme of the book


The central question is, why are people still so attached to their cars?

▪ predominant most common, typical, or important:

Yellow was the predominant colour everywhere.


High arched windows are a predominant feature in English churches.


New York still has a predominant role in the contemporary art world.

II. prime 2 BrE AmE noun [singular]

the time in your life when you are strongest and most active

in your prime

She’s now 40 and still in her prime.

He is now past his prime.

a man in the prime of life

a young singer who was tragically cut off in her prime (=died while she was in her prime)

III. prime 3 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

1 . PREPARE SOMEBODY to prepare someone for a situation so that they know what to do

prime somebody with something

Did you prime her with what to say?

prime somebody for something

He had a shower and primed himself for action.

prime somebody to do something

He had been primed to say nothing about it.

2 . A GUN to prepare a gun or bomb so that it can fire or explode

3 . PAINT to put a special layer of paint on a surface, in order to prepare it for the next layer:

All metal surfaces will have to be primed.

4 . prime the pump informal to encourage a business, industry, or activity to develop by putting money or effort into it

5 . WATER to pour water into a water pump in order to make it ready to work

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.