Meaning of PRIMARY in English

I. ˈprīˌmerē, -_m(ə)rē, -ri adjective

Etymology: Late Latin primarius basic, primary, from Latin, principal, from primus first + -arius -ary — more at prime


a. : first in order of time or development : initial : primitive

the primary forest

the primary stage of civilization

primary tuberculosis


(1) : of or relating to geological formations of the Paleozoic and earlier periods

(2) of minerals or ore deposits : formed first ; especially : formed under igneous, pneumatolytic, or hydrothermal conditions : hypogene


a. : first in rank or importance : chief , principal

the primary duty of safeguarding the peace of the world — P.J.Noel-Baker

the primary member of the cabinet

b. : basic , fundamental

man has always used the most durable materials available for his primary tools — R.W.Murray

the family is still the primary human association — Kimball Young

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

primary economic activities

primary goods

world primary prices have dipped significantly below their recent peaks — W.T.C.King

e. : expressive of present or future time — used of a grammatical tense

the present, future, perfect, and future perfect indicative are the Greek primary tenses

f. : of, relating to, or constituting the strongest of the three or the four degrees of stress recognized by most linguists

3. : functioning or transmitted without intermediary : direct

require primary assistance if they are to be kept from starving and freezing to death — New York Times


a. : not derived from or dependent on something else : firsthand , independent , original

a very useful primary historical source — R.A.Hall b.1911

primary research

b. of a color : not derivable from other colors

c. : preparatory to something else : belonging to the first stage of some continuing process or series ; specifically : of or relating to a primary school

primary education

primary grades

primary instruction

d. : belonging to the first group or order in successive divisions, combinations, or ramifications

primary nerves

primary compounds

e. : of, relating to, or constituting the inducing current or its circuit in an induction coil or transformer

the primary voltage

primary current

f. : directly derived from ore : virgin

primary aluminum

primary copper

5. : characterized by replacement in the first degree : resulting from the substitution of one of two or more atoms or groups in a molecule

a primary phosphate

especially : being or characterized by a carbon atom united by a single valence to only one chain or ring member

a primary radical RCH 2 − such as ethyl or benzyl

— compare secondary , tertiary

II. noun

( -es )

1. : something that stands first in order, rank, or importance : fundamental — usually used in plural


[short for primary planet ]

a. : a planet as distinguished from its satellites

b. : the brighter component of a double star


a. also primary quill : one of the quills on the distal joint of a bird's wing that are attached to the bones of the hand and its fingers and are usually 9 or 10 in number — see bird illustration

b. : either of the forewings of an insect


(1) : one of the first formed plates in the development of the skeleton of an echinoderm after metamorphosis

(2) : an ambulacral plate of a sea urchin extending half across the ambulacral area ; also : the largest spine or one of the largest spines on any plate of the test or the tubercle bearing it — compare secondary 6c


a. : primary color

b. : a primary-color sensation

5. : primary coil


[translation of French (assemblée) primaire ]

a. : caucus 1b

b. or primary election : 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 — see closed primary , direct primary , nonpartisan primary , open primary , presidential primary

III. adjective

1. : of, relating to, or being the amino acid sequence in proteins

primary protein structure

2. : of, relating to, involving, or derived from primary meristem

primary tissue

primary growth

3. : of, relating to, or involved in the production of organic substances by green plants

primary productivity

4. : providing primary care

a primary physician

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.