being the first or earliest of the kind or in existence, especially in an early age of the world: primitive forms of life.
early in the history of the world or of humankind.
characteristic of early ages or of an early state of human development: primitive toolmaking.
Anthropology. of or pertaining to a preliterate or tribal people having cultural or physical similarities with their early ancestors: no longer in technical use.
unaffected or little affected by civilizing influences; uncivilized; savage: primitive passions.
being in its earliest period; early: the primitive phase of the history of a town.
old-fashioned: primitive ideas and habits.
simple; unsophisticated: a primitive farm implement.
crude; unrefined: primitive living conditions.
of or pertaining to a form from which a word or other linguistic form is derived; not derivative; original or radical.
of or pertaining to a protolanguage.
of or pertaining to a linguistic prime.
primary, as distinguished from secondary.
rudimentary; primordial.
noting species, varieties, etc., only slightly evolved from early antecedent types.
of early formation and temporary, as a part that subsequently disappears.
someone or something primitive.
Fine Arts.
an artist of a preliterate culture.
a naive or unschooled artist.
an artist belonging to the early stage in the development of a style.
a work of art by a primitive artist.
a geometric or algebraic form or expression from which another is derived.
a function of which the derivative is a given function.
Linguistics. the form from which a given word or other linguistic form has been derived, by either morphological or historical processes, as take in undertake.

1350–1400; Middle English (noun and adj.) (< Middle French primitif) < Latin prīmitīvus first of its kind. See prime, -itive

primitively, adverb
primitiveness, primitivity, noun
nonprimitive, adjective, noun
nonprimitively, adverb
nonprimitiveness, noun
preprimitive, adjective
pseudoprimitive, adjective
semiprimitive, adjective
unprimitive, adjective
unprimitively, adverb
unprimitiveness, noun

1, 2. prehistoric, primal, primary, primordial, original, aboriginal, antediluvian, pristine. See prime. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To primitive
World English Dictionary
primitive (ˈprɪmɪtɪv)
1.  of or belonging to the first or beginning; original
2.  characteristic of an early state, esp in being crude or uncivilized: a primitive dwelling
3.  anthropol denoting or relating to a preliterate and nonindustrial social system
4.  biology
 a.  of, relating to, or resembling an early stage in the evolutionary development of a particular group of organisms: primitive amphibians
 b.  another word for primordial
5.  showing the characteristics of primitive painters; untrained, childlike, or naive
6.  geology pertaining to magmas that have experienced only small degrees of fractional crystallization or crystal contamination
7.  obsolete of, relating to, or denoting rocks formed in or before the Palaeozoic era
8.  obsolete denoting a word from which another word is derived, as for example hope, from which hopeless is derived
9.  Protestant theol of, relating to, or associated with a minority group that breaks away from a sect, denomination, or Church in order to return to what is regarded as the original simplicity of the Gospels
10.  a primitive person or thing
11.  a.  an artist whose work does not conform to traditional, academic, or avant-garde standards of Western painting, such as a painter from an African or Oceanic civilization
 b.  a painter of the pre-Renaissance era in European painting
 c.  Also called (for senses 11a, 11c): naive a painter of any era whose work appears childlike or untrained
12.  a work by such an artist
13.  a word or concept from which another word or concept is derived
14.  maths a curve, function, or other form from which another is derived
[C14: from Latin prīmitīvus earliest of its kind, primitive, from prīmus first]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1400, "of a thing from which something is derived, not secondary" (a sense now associated with primary), from O.Fr. primitif (fem. primitive), from L. primitivus "first or earliest of its kind," from primitus "at first," from primus "first" (see prime (adj.)). Meaning "of or belonging to the first
age" is from c.1526. In Christian sense of "adhering to the qualities of the early Church" it is recorded from 1685. Of untrained artists from 1942.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

primitive prim·i·tive (prĭm'ĭ-tĭv)

  1. Primary; basic.

  2. Of or being an earliest or original stage.

  3. Being little evolved from an early ancestral type.

prim'i·tive·ness or prim'i·tiv'i·ty n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Science Dictionary
primitive   (prĭm'ĭ-tĭv)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. Relating to an early or original stage.

  2. Having evolved very little from an early type. Lampreys and sturgeon are primitive fishes.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Computing Dictionary

primitive definition

A function, operator, or type which is built into a programming language (or operating system), either for speed of execution or because it would be impossible to write it in the language. Primitives typically include the arithmetic and logical operations (plus, minus, and, or, etc.) and are implemented by a small number of machine language instructions.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Ancient forms of tattoo removal included primitive dermabrasion-scraping the
  skin with rough surfaces, such as sandpaper.
Although these ancient beings were primitive, they clearly resembled modern
The ancient bone shares features with primitive fish fins, but also has
  characteristics of a true limb bone.
It was unquestionably primitive and certainly barbaric.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature