Meaning of SECONDARY in English


I. ˈsekənˌderē, -ri sometimes -k ə ŋˌd- adjective

Etymology: Middle English secundarie, secondarie, from Latin secundarius, from secundus second + -arius -ary — more at second


a. : of second rank, importance, or value : next below the first in grade or class

secondary streets

b. : of less than first value or importance : inferior , subordinate

everything was secondary to the will to survive — Frank Rounds

c. : serving to assist or supplement : auxiliary , subsidiary

secondary boycott

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

the third syllable of basketball carries the secondary stress

the fourth syllable of basketball floor carries the secondary stress

e. : expressive of past time — used of a grammatical tense

the imperfect, aorist, and pluperfect indicative are the Greek secondary tenses


a. : immediately derived from something original, primary, or basic : dependent on or following something fundamental or first : having derivative rank, position, or consequence

a secondary producer, manufacturing aluminum alloys into nonfabricated forms from scrap aluminum — New Republic

especially : being a derivative source for scholars

a secondary history or analysis written after study of original material

b. : derivative from primary qualities — see secondary quality

c. : formed later than and often from the substance of earlier mineral deposits (as by weathering or by groundwater action)

d. : of or relating to the induced current or its circuit in an induction coil or transformer

a secondary coil

secondary voltage

e. : characterized by replacement in the second degree : resulting from the substitution of two atoms or groups in a molecule

a secondary salt

secondary phosphates

especially : being or characterized by a carbon atom united by two valences to chain or ring members

secondary butyl CH 3 CH 2 CH(CH 3 )−

— compare primary 5, tertiary


(1) : not first in order of occurrence or development : relating to or derived from a later stage of differentiation or growth

(2) : produced by activity of formative tissue and especially cambium other than that at a growing point


(1) : dependent or consequent on another disease

Bright's disease is often secondary to scarlet fever

(2) : occurring or being in the second stage

secondary symptoms of syphilis

(3) : occurring some time after the original injury

a secondary hemorrhage

h. : produced by a second process (as by treatment of old metal and alloys, sweepings, or drosses) : not obtained directly from ore


a. : of or relating to the second order or stage in a series

the stone will be hauled … to a secondary and tertiary crusher — Wall Street Journal

b. obsolete

(1) : mesozoic

(2) : paleozoic

c. : of, relating to, or being the second segment of the wing of a bird or the quills of this segment

d. : of or relating to a school intermediate between elementary school and college

e. : more advanced than a primary stage : next above the first in grade or class

II. noun

( -es )

Etymology: Middle English secundarie, from secundarie, secondarie, adjective

1. : one occupying a subordinate or auxiliary position rather than that of a principal: as

a. : delegate , deputy

b. : a former officer of the corporation of the City of London

c. : a clergyman of second rank on the staff of an English cathedral

2. : a defensive football backfield — contrasted with line


a. : the star of lesser mass or brightness in a double-star system : companion 4d

b. : satellite

4. : a secondary electrical circuit or coil


a. : a cyclone relatively small in extent but often intense within the outer isobars of an older and larger storm

b. : a small area of low barometric pressure associated with a larger primary one


a. : any of the quill feathers arising from the forearm of a bird — see bird illustration

b. : one of the hind wings of an insect (as a butterfly or moth)

c. : one of the tubercles on the test of a sea urchin that is noticeably larger than a miliary tubercle but much smaller than a primary ; also : a spine borne by such a tubercle

III. noun

or secondary offering

: secondary distribution

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