What does primitive mean?

Definitions for primitive
ˈprɪm ɪ tɪvprim·i·tive

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word primitive.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. primitive, primitive personnoun

    a person who belongs to an early stage of civilization

  2. primitivenoun

    a mathematical expression from which another expression is derived

  3. primitiveadjective

    a word serving as the basis for inflected or derived forms

    "`pick' is the primitive from which `picket' is derived"

  4. crude, primitive, rudeadjective

    belonging to an early stage of technical development; characterized by simplicity and (often) crudeness

    "the crude weapons and rude agricultural implements of early man"; "primitive movies of the 1890s"; "primitive living conditions in the Appalachian mountains"

  5. archaic, primitiveadjective

    little evolved from or characteristic of an earlier ancestral type

    "archaic forms of life"; "primitive mammals"; "the okapi is a short-necked primitive cousin of the giraffe"

  6. primitiveadjective

    used of preliterate or tribal or nonindustrial societies

    "primitive societies"

  7. primitive, naiveadjective

    of or created by one without formal training; simple or naive in style

    "primitive art such as that by Grandma Moses is often colorful and striking"


  1. primitivenoun

    An original or primary word; a word not derived from another, as opposed to derivative.

  2. primitivenoun

    A data type that is built into the programming language, as opposed to more complex structures.

  3. primitivenoun

    A basic geometric shape from which more complex shapes can be constructed.

  4. primitivenoun

    A function whose derivative is a given function; an antiderivative.

  5. primitiveadjective

    Of or pertaining to the beginning or origin, or to early times; original; primordial; primeval; first; as, primitive innocence; the primitive church.

  6. primitiveadjective

    Of or pertaining to a former time; old-fashioned; characterized by simplicity; as, a primitive style of dress.

  7. primitiveadjective

    Original; primary; radical; not derived; as, primitive verb in grammar.

  8. primitiveadjective

    Occurring in or characteristic of an early stage of development or evolution.

  9. Etymology: From primitif, from primitivus, from primus; see prime.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. PRIMITIVEadjective

    Etymology: primitif, Fr. primitivus, Lat.

    Their superstition pretends, they cannot do God greater service, than utterly to destroy the primitive apostolical government of the church by bishops. Charles I .

    David reflects sometimes upon the present form of the world, and sometimes upon the primitive form of it. Burnet.

    The doctrine of purgatory, by which they mean an estate of temporary punishments after this life, was not known in the primitive church, nor can be proved from scripture. John Tillotson.

    Our primitive great sire, to meet
    His godlike guest, walks forth. John Milton.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Primitiveadjective

    of or pertaining to the beginning or origin, or to early times; original; primordial; primeval; first; as, primitive innocence; the primitive church

  2. Primitiveadjective

    of or pertaining to a former time; old-fashioned; characterized by simplicity; as, a primitive style of dress

  3. Primitiveadjective

    original; primary; radical; not derived; as, primitive verb in grammar

  4. Primitivenoun

    an original or primary word; a word not derived from another; -- opposed to derivative


  1. Primitive

    Primitive is the second studio album by the metal band Soulfly released in 2000 through Roadrunner Records. Primitive has sold over 226,569 copies.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Primitive

    prim′i-tiv, adj. belonging to the beginning, or to the first times: original: ancient: antiquated, old-fashioned: not derived: (biol.) rudimentary, primary or first of its kind: (geol.) of the earliest formation.—n. a primitive word, or one not derived from another: (math.) a form from which another is derived.—ns.pl. Prim′itive-col′ours, the colours from which all others are supposed to be derived—viz. red, yellow, and blue; Prim′itive-fa′thers, the Christian writers before the Council of Nice, 325 A.D.adv. Prim′itively.—n.pl. Prim′itive-Meth′odists, a religious body founded in 1810, whose beliefs are the same as those of other Methodists, but whose working arrangements are nearly Presbyterian.—n. Prim′itiveness.—n.pl. Prim′itive-rocks (see Primary-rocks). [Fr.,—L. primitivus, an extension of primus.]


  1. Primitive

    simple in character; of an early or ancient type.

British National Corpus

  1. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'primitive' in Adjectives Frequency: #704

How to pronounce primitive?

How to say primitive in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of primitive in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of primitive in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of primitive in a Sentence

  1. John W. Gardner:

    I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive.

  2. Robert Graves:

    Anthropologists are a connecting link between poets and scientists though their field-work among primitive peoples has often made them forget the language of science.

  3. Shiladitya DasSarma:

    What happened I think is that the chlorophyll-based photosynthesis is more efficient, which means they generally have outcompeted the the purple organisms, in evolution, you had progression from more primitive to more complex and capable systems.

  4. Arnaldo Zunizakae:

    We won't be able to sow this year's crop. Conventional crops are more costly to store and harder to sell. We'd be pushed back into primitive 20th century agriculture.

  5. John Long:

    I think it is a highly significant discovery, as the origin and diversificationof modern bony-jawed fishesis still shrouded in mystery, but Janiusiscus takes us abig step closer to really understandingthis major evolutionary transition, from primitive jawed fishes to the beginning of themodern jawed fish fauna.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for primitive

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    of surpassing excellence
    • A. tight
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