1413, primerose, from O.Fr. primerose (12c.), from M.L. prima rosa, lit. "first rose," so called because it blooms early in spring. Parallel name primula (1101) is from O.Fr. primerole, from M.L. primula "primrose," shortened from primula veris "firstling of spring," prop. fem. of L. primulus, dim. of primus; but primerole was used in O.Fr. and M.E. of other flowers (cowslips, field daisies). The primrose path is from "Hamlet" I, iii.