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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.


a less common word for primitiveness
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
Chapter Five continues the arguments found in Chapter Four about the queer child entwined with the landscape, adding a discussion of primitivity and evolutionary perspective.
In the Western history of thought, culture or civilization has always been opposed to nature or primitivity. The parameters of culture include reason, norm, order, whereas nature refers to whatever is unwholesome, irrational, coarse, chaotic and uncultivated.
Imagine a teacher who was born in town A, went to a school there, joined a local college, married the neighbour's daughter or son and now works there.The primitivity embedded in such a teacher's mind may be too restrictive to be of much positive benefit to students.
Second, these results have occurred only with the two defense styles occupying the low end of the mature-immature or most-least cognitive processing involved continuum (i.e., primitivity).
(18.) Monis was not the only one who figured Hebrew's primitivity in positive, even aestheticizing terms.
The Belgian psychoanalyst Rudi Vermote, for example, states that the myth of the Sphinx is prior to the myth of Oedipus, not only in terms of individual psychosexual development, but also in respect to primitivity of emotions, and as a historical occurrence.
At the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, sculptures of American cowboys conjured a dynamic and adventurous West, while portraits of American Indians on vases evoked an indigenous people frozen in primitivity. At the same time, representations of Lakota performers, as well as the performers themselves, deftly negotiated the politics of American Indian assimilation and sought alternative spaces abroad.
In the theory of nonnegative matrices, the notion of primitivity plays an important role in the convergence of the Collatz method.
Moreover, the primitivity of H acting on [[OMEGA].sub.n] and H [??] [A.sub.n] imply that v [greater than or equal to] [ n+1/2 ]!/2 by [14, Theorem 14.2].
El toro negro symbolizes a constant reminder of primitivity, a ceaseless extension of the past within the present, which the Spanish community shows no desire of throwing into oblivion.
It uses an inversive-decimation method for testing the primitivity of a characteristic polynomial of linear recurrence with a computational complexity O([p.sup.2]), where p is the degree of the polynomial.