Meaning of PRIMARY in English

/ ˈpraɪməri; NAmE -meri/ adjective , noun

■ adjective


[ usually before noun ] main; most important; basic

SYN prime :

The primary aim of this course is to improve your spoken English.

Our primary concern must be the children.

Good health care is of primary importance.


[ usually before noun ] developing or happening first; earliest :

primary causes

The disease is still in its primary stage.


[ only before noun ] ( especially BrE ) connected with the education of children between the ages of about five and eleven :

primary teachers

—compare elementary , secondary , tertiary

■ noun

( pl. -ies ) (also ˌprimary eˈlection ) (in the US) an election in which people in a particular area vote to choose a candidate for a future important election :

the Illinois primary

the presidential primaries

For more information see the Cultural Guide



late Middle English (in the sense original, not derivative ): from Latin primarius , from primus first. The noun uses date from the 18th cent.

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.