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Definition of primitive

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prim·i·tive  audio  (prm-tv) KEY 

  1. Not derived from something else; primary or basic.
    1. Of or relating to an earliest or original stage or state; primeval.
    2. Being little evolved from an early ancestral type.
  2. Characterized by simplicity or crudity; unsophisticated: primitive weapons. See Synonyms at rude.
  3. Anthropology Of or relating to a nonindustrial, often tribal culture, especially one that is characterized by a low level of economic complexity: primitive societies.
  4. Linguistics
    1. Serving as the basis for derived or inflected forms: Pick is the primitive word from which picket is derived.
    2. Being a protolanguage: primitive Germanic.
  5. Mathematics An algebraic or geometric expression from which another expression is derived.
  6. Relating or belonging to forces of nature; elemental: primitive passions.
    1. Of or created by an artist without formal training; simple or naive in style.
    2. Of or relating to the work of an artist from a nonindustrial, often tribal culture, especially a culture that is characterized by a low level of economic complexity.
  7. Of or relating to late medieval or pre-Renaissance European painters or sculptors.
  8. Biology Occurring in or characteristic of an early stage of development or evolution.
  1. Anthropology A person belonging to a nonindustrial, often tribal society, especially a society characterized by a low level of economic complexity.
  2. An unsophisticated person.
  3. One that is at a low or early stage of development.
    1. One belonging to an early stage in the development of an artistic trend, especially a painter of the pre-Renaissance period.
    2. An artist having or affecting a simple, direct, unschooled style, as of painting.
    3. A self-taught artist.
    4. A work of art created by a primitive artist.
  4. Linguistics
    1. A word or word element from which another word is derived by morphological or historical processes or from which inflected forms are derived.
    2. A basic and indivisible unit of linguistic analysis. Also called prime.
  5. Computer Science A basic or fundamental unit of machine instruction or translation.

Middle English, from Old French primitif, primitive, from Latin prmitvus, from prmitus, at first, from prmus, first; see per1 in Indo-European roots

primi·tive·ly(Adverb), primi·tive·ness or primi·tivi·ty(Noun)

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