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a. Of or relating to an early or original stage or state; primeval: life in the primitive ocean.
b. Occurring in or characteristic of an early stage of development or evolution: fossils of primitive angiosperms from the Cretaceous Period.
c. Having developed early in the evolutionary history of a group: Hair is a primitive trait of mammals.
d. Regarded as having changed little in evolutionary history. Not in scientific use: The coelacanth is a primitive fish.
2. Characterized by simplicity or crudity; unsophisticated: primitive weapons.
3. Of or relating to a nonindustrial, often tribal culture, especially one that is characterized by an absence of literacy and a low level of economic or technological complexity: primitive societies.
4. Not derived from something else; primary or basic: "Conscious perception is ... the most primitive form of judgment" (Alfred North Whitehead).
5. Linguistics
a. Serving as the basis for derived or inflected forms: Pick is the primitive word from which picket is derived.
b. Being a protolanguage: primitive Germanic.
6. Not resulting from conscious thought or deliberation; unconscious or instinctual: primitive passions.
a. Of or created by an artist without formal training; simple or naive in style.
b. Of or relating to late medieval or pre-Renaissance European painters or sculptors.
1. A person belonging to a nonindustrial, often tribal society, especially a society characterized by a low level of economic or technological complexity.
2. Derogatory An unsophisticated or unintelligent person.
3. One that is at a low or early stage of development.
a. One belonging to an early stage in the development of an artistic trend, especially a painter of the pre-Renaissance period.
b. An artist having or affecting a simple, direct, unschooled style, as of painting.
c. A work of art created by a primitive artist.
5. Linguistics
a. A word or word element from which another word is derived by morphological or historical processes or from which inflected forms are derived.
b. A basic and indivisible unit of linguistic analysis. Also called prime.
6. Mathematics An algebraic or geometric expression from which another expression is derived.
7. Computers A basic or fundamental unit of machine instruction or translation.

[Middle English, from Old French primitif, primitive, from Latin prīmitīvus, from prīmitus, at first, from prīmus, first; see per in Indo-European roots.]

prim′i·tive·ly adv.
prim′i·tive·ness, prim′i·tiv′i·ty n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.primitively - with reference to the origin or beginning
2.primitively - in a primitive style or manner; "rather primitively operated foundries"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
I often wondered how it had happened that I had ever survived the first ten years of my life within the inner world, when, naked and primitively armed, I had traversed great areas of her beast-ridden surface.
Clayton's only response was a shrug of the shoulders, but as he left them he picked up the spear which had transfixed Snipes, and thus primitively armed, the son of the then Lord Greystoke strode into the dense jungle.
The same impenetrable insensibility, the same primitively natural condition of the moral being, prevented him from being troubled by the slightest sense of pity for Anne.
The composer's orchestral scores supported the family's foibles since the show's primitively drawn early days.
In almost believing in the animal's resurrection, I, primitively, crudely, humanly, brought him to life.
The study says that the clues about ancient primates being tree-dwellers suggests that "primates are primitively arboreal," as opposed to their tree-climbing ways simply evolving separately among different groups of primates.
A subgroup G [less than or equal to] Aut(D) is called point-primitive if it acts primitively on P and flag-transitive if it acts transitively on the set of flags of D.
(i) Declarative sentences are representational, not because they express primitively representational Fregean or Russellian propositions, or because they name possible facts, but because of how they are used.
Polygons were primitively used in the development of 3D contents for animated effects in interactive video games, and are widely used in film, advertisement, animation production, and other design fields nowadays (Figure 2, Figure 3).
What is more, he wrote in an airy, effortless poetic style, which markedly differed from the then commonplace primitively versed texts in Latin.
Filial cannibalism and egg recognition by males of the primitively custodial teleost Cyprinodon macular ius californiensis Girard (Atherinomorpha: Cyprinodontidae).