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[prahy-muh l] /ˈpraɪ məl/
first; original; primeval:
primal eras before the appearance of life on earth.
of first importance; fundamental:
the primal resources of a nation.
Origin of primal
1535-45; < Medieval Latin prīmālis. See prime, -al1
Related forms
nonprimal, adjective
Can be confused
primal, primeval, primordial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for primal
  • His specialty is taking a primal wish of kids, transporting them to a fantasyland and then marooning them there.
  • Many angry, disappointed academic newbies have the same primal response.
  • It is also an example of what seems to be a primal human interaction-the mutual direction of gaze.
  • The airborne combat between bat and mantis is primal.
  • Landscapes shape us and speak to us on a primal level.
  • Walker is also a pop-group alumnus in pursuit of the primal.
  • There are debates over how to resolve bullying, warnings to other scholars, and even primal cries for help.
  • Something primal has happened: both a political and a moral order have collapsed.
  • Their fear and desire reveals something primal about our species.
  • Evolution may have piggybacked brain functions that regulate social interaction on top of a more primal pain system.
British Dictionary definitions for primal


first or original
chief or most important
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin prīmālis, from Latin prīmus first
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 primal

c.1600, "belonging to the earliest age," from Medieval Latin primalis "primary," from Latin primus "first" (see prime (adj.)). Psychological sense, in reference to Freud's theory of behaviors springing from the earliest stage of emotional development, is attested from 1918. Primal scream is from a best-selling book of 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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primal in Medicine

primal pri·mal (prī'məl)

  1. Being first in time; original.

  2. Of first or central importance; primary.

pri·mal'i·ty (-māl'ĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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