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[prim] /prɪm/
adjective, primmer, primmest.
formally precise or proper, as persons or behavior; stiffly neat.
verb (used without object), primmed, primming.
to draw up the mouth in an affectedly nice or precise way.
verb (used with object), primmed, primming.
to make prim, as in appearance.
to draw (one's face, lips, etc.) into a prim expression.
Origin of prim1
1675-85; origin uncertain
Related forms
primly, adverb
primness, noun
unprimmed, adjective
1. prissy, formal, rigid.
1. flexible. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for primly
  • She sits primly on a sofa, hands in lap, attending to her husband's clichés.
  • Seated on a stool with hands folded primly on its lap, it wore a bright pink blazer and gray slacks.
  • Rusting street signs primly warn against parking, or herald a clinic or a pedestrian crossing.
  • Every other seat was occupied by a primly dressed elderly.
  • Bush sits on a couch, her hands folded in her lap and her knees primly locked together.
  • He reached beneath this garment to where the slip, with its tiny lace eyelets, waited primly.
  • Journalists, even columnists, are supposed to primly decline to say how they plan to vote.
  • Usually, she settled herself primly on the couch and spoke softly and timidly.
British Dictionary definitions for primly


adjective primmer, primmest
affectedly proper, precise, or formal
verb prims, primming, primmed
(transitive) to make prim
to purse (the mouth) primly or (of the mouth) to be so pursed
Derived Forms
primly, adverb
primness, noun
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin
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 primly


1680s (v.) "to assume a formal, precise demeanor," perhaps from French prim "thin, small, delicate," from Old French prim "fine, delicate," from Latin primus "finest," literally "first" (see prime (adj.)). Later, "deck out, dress to effect" (1721). Attested as a noun from 1700. The adjective, the sole surviving sense, is from 1709. A cant word at first. Related: Primly; primness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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