[pri.ma.ry] adj [ME, fr. LL primarius basic, primary, fr. L, principal, fr. primus] (15c) 1 a: first in order of time or development: primitive "the ~ stage of civilization" b: of or relating to formations of the Paleozoic and earlier periods
2. a: of first rank, importance, or value: principal "the ~ purpose" b: basic, fundamental "security is a ~ need" c: of, relating to, or constituting the principal quills of a bird's wing d: of or relating to agriculture, forestry, and the extractive industries or their products e: expressive of present or future time "~ tense" f: of, relating to, or constituting the strongest of the three or four degrees of stress recognized by most linguists "the first syllable of basketball carries ~ stress" 3 a: direct, firsthand "~ sources of information" b: not derivable from other colors, odors, or tastes c: preparatory to something else in a continuing process "~ instruction" d: of or relating to a primary school "~ education" e: belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications "~ nerves" f: of, relating to, or constituting the inducing current or its circuit in an induction coil or transformer g: directly derived from ores "~ metals" h: of, relating to, or being the amino acid sequence in proteins "~ protein structure"
4: resulting from the substitution of one of two or more atoms or groups in a molecule; esp: being or characterized by a carbon atom having a bond to only one other carbon atom
5: of, relating to, involving, or derived from primary meristem "~ tissue" "~ growth"
6: of, relating to, or involved in the production of organic substances by green plants "~ productivity"
primary n, pl -ries (ca. 1772) 1: something that stands first in rank, importance, or value: fundamental--usu. used in pl.
2: the celestial body around which one or more other celestial bodies revolve; esp: the more massive usu. brighter component of a binary star system
3: one of the usu.
10. strong quills on the distal joint of a bird's wing--see wing illustration
4. a: primary color b: a primary-color sensation
5. a: caucus b: an election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office, choose party officials, or select delegates for a party convention
6: the coil that is connected to the source of electricity in an induction coil or transformer--called also primary coil