Definition of prime adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//praɪm//
    ; NAmE NAmE//praɪm//
    [only before noun]
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  1. 1main; most important; basic My prime concern is to protect my property. Winning is not the prime objective in this sport. The care of the environment is of prime importance. He's the police's prime suspect in this case. Synonymsmainmajor key central principal chief primeThese words all describe somebody/​something that is the largest or most important of its kind.main [only before noun] largest or most important:Be careful crossing the main road. The main thing is to remain calm.major [usually before noun] very large or important:He played a major role in setting up the system. Major is most often used after a with a singular noun, or no article with a plural noun. When it is used with the or my/​your/​his/​her/​our/​their it means ‘the largest or most important’:Our major concern here is combatting poverty. In this meaning it is only used to talk about ideas or worries that people have, not physical things, and it is also more formal than main:Be careful crossing the major road. The major thing is to remain calm.key [usually before noun] most important; essential:He was a key figure in the campaign. Key is used most frequently in business and political contexts. It can be used to talk about ideas, or the part that somebody plays in a situation, but not physical things. It is slightly more informal than major, especially when used after a noun and linking verb:Speed is key at this point.central (rather formal) most important:The central issue is that of widespread racism. Central is used in a similar way to key, but is more formal. It is most frequently used in the phrase something is central to something else. principal [only before noun] (rather formal) most important:The principal reason for this omission is lack of time. Principal is mostly used for statements of fact about which there can be no argument. To state an opinion, or to try to persuade somebody of the facts as you see them, it is more usual to use key or central:The key/​central issue here is…chief [only before noun] (rather formal) most important:Unemployment was the chief cause of poverty.prime [only before noun] (rather formal) most important; to be considered first:My prime concern is to protect my property.Patterns a/​the main/​major/​key/​central/​principal/​chief/​prime aim/​concern a/​the main/​major/​principal road/​town/​city the main/​key thing is to… to be of major/​key/​central/​prime importance
  2. 2of the best quality; excellent prime (cuts of) beef The store has a prime position in the mall.
  3. 3a prime example of something is one that is typical of it The building is a prime example of 1960s architecture.
  4. 4most likely to be chosen for something; most suitable The house is isolated and a prime target for burglars. He's a prime candidate for promotion.
  5. Word Originadjective Old English prīm (referring to a service of the Divine Office of the Western Church, said at the first hour of the day), from Latin prima (hora) ‘first (hour)’, reinforced in Middle English by Old French prime; the adjective dates from late Middle English, via Old French from Latin primus ‘first’.Extra examples Over £100 000 worth of prime lamb was destroyed in the fire. Use only prime cuts of beef. a prime location in the centre of town
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: prime