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[sek-uh n-der-ee] /ˈsɛk ənˌdɛr i/
next after the first in order, place, time, etc.
belonging or pertaining to a second order, division, stage, period, rank, grade, etc.
(in scholarly studies) pertaining to or being a derived or derivative account, an evaluation of original data, etc.; not primary or original, as in secondary source; secondary research.
of minor or lesser importance; subordinate; auxiliary.
of or relating to secondary schools.
  1. involving or obtained by the replacement of two atoms or groups.
  2. noting or containing a carbon atom united to two other carbon atoms in a chain or ring molecule.
Electricity. noting or pertaining to the current induced by a primary winding or to the winding in which the current is induced in an induction coil, transformer, or the like.
Geology. noting or pertaining to a mineral produced from another mineral by decay, alteration, or the like.
  1. derived.
  2. derived from a word that is itself a derived word:
    a secondary derivative.
  3. having reference to past time; noting or pertaining to a past tense:
    the Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit secondary tenses.
    Compare primary (def 13).
Ornithology. pertaining to any of a set of flight feathers on the second segment of a bird's wing.
Linguistics. of, relating to, or characteristic of a secondary accent:
secondary stress.
noun, plural secondaries.
a person or thing that is secondary.
a subordinate, assistant, deputy, or agent.
Electricity. a winding in a transformer or the like in which a current is induced by a primary winding.
Ornithology. a secondary feather.
Football. the defensive unit that lines up behind the linemen.
Linguistics, secondary accent.
Origin of secondary
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin secundārius. See second1, -ary
Related forms
[sek-uh n-der-uh-lee, sek-uh n-dair-] /ˈsɛk ənˌdɛr ə li, ˌsɛk ənˈdɛər-/ (Show IPA),
secondariness, noun
4. alternate, subsidiary, backup. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for secondarily
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The large eagles prey on game all the year round; the smaller species chiefly on reptiles and small birds, secondarily on game.

  • My parents were to blame for all this secondarily only, as I think of it now.

    My Life Josiah Flynt
  • The immediate struggle must take place primarily in the shop—at the point of production—only secondarily at the polls.

    The I.W.W. Paul Frederick Brissenden
  • The bony trabeculae and the cortex are destroyed only secondarily.

  • Her duty is conceived of as first to him and only secondarily to her children and the State.

    First and Last Things H. G. Wells
  • It involves too much that is incredible, and damning to him secondarily if believed.

    Gabriel Conroy Bert Harte
  • The cat was sacred to her; or rather to the sun, and secondarily to her.

  • He wondered, but only secondarily, what effect it would have upon Frank.

    None Other Gods Robert Hugh Benson
  • In my opinion this position is used primarily for basking or resting and only secondarily for feeding.

British Dictionary definitions for secondarily


/ˈsɛkəndərɪ; -drɪ/
one grade or step after the first; not primary
derived from or depending on what is primary, original, or first: a secondary source
below the first in rank, importance, etc; not of major importance
(prenominal) of or relating to the education of young people between the ages of 11 and 18: secondary education
(of the flight feathers of a bird's wing) growing from the ulna
  1. being the part of an electric circuit, such as a transformer or induction coil, in which a current is induced by a changing current in a neighbouring coil: a secondary coil
  2. (of a current) flowing in such a circuit Compare primary (sense 7)
(of an industry) involving the manufacture of goods from raw materials Compare primary (sense 8b), tertiary (sense 2)
(geology) (of minerals) formed by the alteration of pre-existing minerals
  1. (of an organic compound) having a functional group attached to a carbon atom that is attached to one hydrogen atom and two other groups
  2. (of an amine) having only two organic groups attached to a nitrogen atom; containing the group NH
  3. (of a salt) derived from a tribasic acid by replacement of two acidic hydrogen atoms with metal atoms or electropositive groups
  1. derived from a word that is itself a derivation from another word. Thus, lovably comes from lovable and is a secondary derivative from love
  2. (of a tense in Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit) another word for historic (sense 3)
noun (pl) -aries
a person or thing that is secondary
a subordinate, deputy, or inferior
a secondary coil, winding, inductance, or current in an electric circuit
(ornithol) any of the flight feathers that grow from the ulna of a bird's wing See primary (sense 6)
(astronomy) a celestial body that orbits around a specified primary body: the moon is the secondary of the earth
(med) a cancerous growth in some part of the body away from the site of the original tumour
(American football)
  1. the secondary, cornerbacks and safeties collectively
  2. their area in the field
short for secondary colour
Derived Forms
secondarily, adverb
secondariness, noun
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 secondarily



late 14c., from Latin secundarius "pertaining to the second class, inferior," from secundus (see second (adj.)). Of colors, from 1831; of education, from 1809. Of sex characteristics from 1780. Opposed to primary or principal. Related: Secondarily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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secondarily in Medicine

secondary sec·ond·ar·y (sěk'ən-děr'ē)

  1. Of the second rank; not primary.

  2. Inferior.

  3. Minor; lesser.

  4. Derived from what is primary or original.

  5. Of or relating to a chemical compound characterized or formed by replacement of two atoms or radicals within a molecule.

  6. Of, relating to, or being a degree of health care intermediate between that offered in a physician's office and that available at a research hospital, as the care typically offered at a clinic or community hospital.

sec'ond·ar'i·ly (-dâr'ə-lē) adv.
sec'ond·ar'i·ness 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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secondarily in Science
  1. Relating to a secondary color.

  2. Relating to or derived from either of the lateral meristems (the cork cambium or the vascular cambium) of vascular plants. For example, secondary xylem in a stem is produced by the vascular cambium, as opposed to primary xylem produced by the apical meristem during the original growth of the stem from a seedling. See also secondary growth.

    1. Relating to or having a carbon atom that is attached to two other carbon atoms in a molecule.

    2. Relating to an organic molecule, such as an alcohol, in which the functional group is attached to a secondary carbon.

  3. Relating to a medical condition that arises as a result of another disorder, disease process, or injury. Compare primary, tertiary.

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