• (British) IPA: /ˈpɹaɪməɹi/
  • (America) enPR: prīʹmĕr-ē, IPA: /ˈpɹaɪˌmɛɹi/ or enPR: prīʹmə-rē, IPA: /ˈpɹaɪməɹi/
  • (New Zealand) IPA: /ˈpɹɒeməɹi/, /ˈpɹɒemɹi/


  1. first or earliest in a group or series.
    Children attend primary school, and teenagers attend secondary school.
    • the church of Christ, in its primary institution
    • 1689 (indicated as 1690), [John Locke], An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. […], London: […] Thomas Basset, […], OCLC 153628242 ↗:
      , Book II, Chapter VIII
      These I call original, or primary, qualities of body.
  2. main; principal; chief; 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) Relating to the place where a disorder or disease started to occur.
  6. (medicine) Relating to day-to-day care provided by health professionals such as nurses, general practitioners, dentists etc.
Translations Translations Noun

primary (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, such as a planet in relation to its satellites.
  5. A primary school.
    • 2001, David Woods, Martyn Cribb, Effective LEAs and school improvement
      Excellence 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 handbook
      By adding and subtracting the three primaries, cyan, yellow, and magenta are produced. These are called subtractive primaries.
  8. (medicine) Primary site of disease; original location or source of the disease.
    unknown primary
    most common primaries
  9. (electronics) A directly driven inductive coil, as in a transformer or induction motor that is magnetically coupled to a secondary
Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • German: Handschwinge

primary (primaries, present participle primarying; past and past participle primaried)

  1. (US, transitive) To knock out an incumbent in the primary election, typically used referring to a non-incumbent challenger.
  2. (US, intransitive) To take part in a primary election.
  3. (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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