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primary Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a preliminary election where delegates or nominees are chosen
    primary election.
  2. noun one of the main flight feathers projecting along the outer edge of a bird's wing
    primary feather; primary quill.
  3. noun (astronomy) a celestial body (especially a star) relative to other objects in orbit around it
  4. noun coil forming the part of an electrical circuit such that changing current in it induces a current in a neighboring circuit
    primary coil; primary winding.
    • current through the primary coil induces current in the secondary coil
  5. adjective of first rank or importance or value; direct and immediate rather than secondary
    • primary goals
    • a primary effect
    • primary sources
    • a primary interest
  6. adjective satellite not derived from or reducible to something else; basic
    • a primary instinct
  7. adjective satellite most important element
    chief; main; master; principal.
    • the chief aim of living
    • the main doors were of solid glass
    • the principal rivers of America
    • the principal example
    • policemen were primary targets
    • the master bedroom
    • a master switch
  8. adjective satellite of or being the essential or basic part
    elementary; elemental.
    • an elementary need for love and nurturing
  9. adjective satellite of primary importance

Pri"ma*ry adjective
L. primarius, fr. primus first: cf. F. primaire. See Prime, a., and cf. Premier, Primero.
  1. First in order of time or development or in intention; primitive; fundamental; original.
    The church of Christ, in its primary institution. Bp. Pearson.
    These I call original, or primary, qualities of body. Locke.
  2. First in order, as being preparatory to something higher; as, primary assemblies; primary schools.
  3. First in dignity or importance; chief; principal; as, primary planets; a matter of primary importance.
  4. (Geol.) Earliest formed; fundamental.
  5. (Chem.) Illustrating, possessing, or characterized by, some quality or property in the first degree; having undergone the first stage of substitution or replacement.
Pri"ma*ry noun
plural Primaries
  1. That which stands first in order, rank, or importance; a chief matter.
  2. A primary meeting; a caucus.
  3. (Zoöl.) One of the large feathers on the distal joint of a bird's wing. See Plumage, and Illust. of Bird.
  4. (Astron.) A primary planet; the brighter component of a double star. See under Planet.

Webster 1913