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[prahy-muh-jen-i-cher, -choo r] /ˌpraɪ məˈdʒɛn ɪ tʃər, -ˌtʃʊər/
the state or fact of being the firstborn of children of the same parents.
Law. the system of inheritance or succession by the firstborn, specifically the eldest son.
Compare postremogeniture.
1585-95; < Medieval Latin prīmōgenitūra a first birth, equivalent to Latin prīmō at first + genitūra, equivalent to genit(us) (past participle of gignere to beget; see kin) + -ūra -ure
Related forms
primogenitary, primogenital, adjective
primogenitureship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for primogeniture
  • One's position in society was hereditary, with primogeniture the general rule.
  • To see how, think about what happens to a farm as it is handed down the generations in a country without primogeniture.
  • Firms that rely on primogeniture, he notes, perform poorly.
  • Still practicing primogeniture, the oldest member of the oldest generation serves as family umpire.
  • Baronial privileges, primogeniture, and feudal dues and privileges were all swept away.
  • For these were the arts which had a kind of primogeniture with them severally.
  • primogeniture and entail were achieved through indirect means.
  • These are a few of the reasons for abolishing primogeniture and en-tail, but there are others of equal importance.
  • Variations of primogeniture reduce, or eliminate the preference for males.
British Dictionary definitions for primogeniture


the state of being a first-born
(law) the right of an eldest son to succeed to the estate of his ancestor to the exclusion of all others Compare ultimogeniture
Derived Forms
primogenitary (ˌpraɪməʊˈdʒɛnɪtərɪ; -trɪ) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin prīmōgenitūra birth of a first child, from Latin prīmō at first + Late Latin genitūra a birth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for primogeniture

"right of succession of the first-born," c.1600, from French primogeniture and directly from Medieval Latin primogenitura, from Late Latin primogenitus "first-born," from Latin primo (adv.) "first in order of time," from primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + genitus, past participle of gignere "to beget" (see genus). Earlier it meant simply "fact of being first-born" (1590s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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primogeniture in Culture
primogeniture [(preye-moh-jen-uh-choor, preye-moh-jen-uh-chuhr)]

A system of inheritance in which land passes exclusively to the eldest son. Until the Industrial Revolution, this system severely restricted the freedom of younger sons, who were often forced into the military or the clergy to earn a living.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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