• Primary


    • UK IPA: /ˈpraɪməri/
    • US enPR: prīʹmĕr-ē, IPA: /ˈpraɪmɛri/ or enPR: prīʹmə-rē, IPA: /ˈpraɪməri/


    Borrowing from la prīmārius, from prīmus (“first”; whence the English adjective prime) + -ārius (whence the English suffix -ary); compare the French primaire, primer, and premier.

    Full definition of primary



    1. The first in a group or series.Children attend primary school, and teenagers attend secondary school.
      • Bishop Pearsonthe church of Christ, in its primary institution
      • John LockeThese I call original, or primary, qualities of body.
    2. Main; principal; placed ahead of others.Preferred stock has primary claim on dividends, ahead of common stock.
    3. (geology) Earliest formed; fundamental.
    4. (chemistry) Illustrating, possessing, or characterized by, some quality or property in the first degree; having undergone the first stage of substitution or replacement.
    5. (medicine) idiopathic



    (plural primaries)
    1. A primary election; a preliminary election to select a political candidate of a political party.
    2. The first year of grade school.
    3. A base or fundamental component; something that is irreducible.
    4. The most massive component of a gravitationally bound system.
    5. A primary school.
      • 2001, David Woods, Martyn Cribb, Effective LEAs and school improvementExcellence in Cities offers a further development of this approach, whereby secondary schools operate with small clusters of primaries as mini-EAZs.
    6. (ornithology) Any flight feather attached to the manus (hand) of a bird.
    7. A primary colour.
      • 2003, Julie A Jacko, Andrew Sears, The human-computer interaction handbookBy adding and subtracting the three primaries, cyan, yellow, and magenta are produced. These are called subtractive primaries.
    8. (electronics) A directly driven inductive coil, as in a transformer or induction motor that is magnetically coupled to a secondary


    1. (US, intransitive) To take part in a primary election.
    2. (US, politics) To challenge an incumbent sitting politician for their political party's endorsement to run for re-election, through running a challenger campaign in a primary election
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