 prime

—primeness, n.adj.1. of the first importance; demanding the fullest consideration: a prime requisite.2. of the greatest relevance or significance: a prime example.3. of the highest eminence or rank: the prime authority on Chaucer.4. of the greatest commercial value: prime building lots.5. firstrate: This ale is prime!6. (of meat, esp. of beef) noting or pertaining to the first grade or best quality: prime ribs of beef.7. first in order of time, existence, or development; earliest; primitive.8. basic; fundamental: the prime axioms of his philosophy.9. Math. (of any two or more numbers) having no common divisor except unity: The number 2 is prime to 9.n.10. the most flourishing stage or state.11. the time of early manhood or womanhood: the prime of youth.12. the period or state of greatest perfection or vigor of human life: a man in his prime.13. the choicest or best part of anything.14. (esp. in the grading of U.S. beef) a grade, classification, or designation indicating the highest or most desirable quality.15. the beginning or earliest stage of any period.16. the spring of the year.17. the first hour or period of the day, after sunrise.18. Banking. See prime rate.19. Eccles. the second of the seven canonical hours or the service for it, originally fixed for the first hour of the day.20. Math.a. See prime number.b. one of the equal parts into which a unit is primarily divided.c. the mark (') indicating such a division: a, a'.21. Fencing. the first of eight defensive positions.22. Music.a. unison (def. 2).b. (in a scale) the tonic or keynote.23. Ling. any basic, indivisible unit used in linguistic analysis.24. Metall. a piece of tin plate free from visible defects.v.t.25. to prepare or make ready for a particular purpose or operation.26. to supply (a firearm) with powder for communicating fire to a charge.27. to lay a train of powder to (a charge, mine, etc.).28. to pour or admit liquid into (a pump) to expel air and prepare for action.29. to put fuel into (a carburetor) before starting an engine, in order to insure a sufficiently rich mixture at the start.30. to cover (a surface) with a preparatory coat or color, as in painting.31. to supply or equip with information, words, etc., for use: The politician was primed by his aides for the press conference.32. to harvest the bottom leaves from (a tobacco plant).v.i.33. (of a boiler) to deliver or discharge steam containing an excessive amount of water.34. to harvest the bottom leaves from a tobacco plant.[bef. 1000; 191015 for def. 5; (adj.) ME ( < OF prim) < L primus FIRST (superl. corresponding to prior PRIOR^{1}); (n.) in part deriv. of the adj.; in part continuing ME prim(e) first canonical hour, OE prim < L prima (hora) first (hour); (v.) appar. deriv. of the adj.]Syn. 1. primary. 7. PRIME, PRIMEVAL, PRIMITIVE have reference to that which is first. PRIME means first in numerical order or order of development: prime meridian; prime cause. PRIMEVAL means belonging to the first or earliest ages: the primeval forest. PRIMITIVE suggests the characteristics of the origins or early stages of a development, and hence implies the simplicity of original things: primitive tribes, conditions, ornaments, customs, tools.
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▪ numberany positive integer greater than 1 that is divisible only by itself and 1; e.g., 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, ….A key result of number theory, called the fundamental theorem of arithmetic (see arithmetic: fundamental theory (arithmetic)), states that every positive integer greater than 1 can be expressed as the product of prime numbers in a unique fashion. Because of this, primes can be regarded as the multiplicative “building blocks” for the natural numbers (all whole numbers greater than zero; e.g., 1, 2, 3, …).Primes have been recognized since antiquity, when they were studied by the Greek mathematicians Euclid (fl. c. 300 BC) and Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 276–194 BC), among others. In his Elements, Euclid gave the first known proof that there are infinitely many primes. Various formulas have been suggested for discovering primes (see number games: Perfect numbers and Mersenne numbers (number game) and Fermat prime), but all have been flawed. Two other famous results concerning the distribution of prime numbers merit special mention: the prime number theorem (number theory) and the Riemann zeta function.In the 20th century, with the help of computers, prime numbers with more than two million digits were discovered. Like efforts to generate ever more digits of π, such number theory research was thought to have no possible application—that is, until cryptographers discovered how large primes could be used to make nearly unbreakable codes. See cryptology: Twokey cryptography (cryptology).* * *
Universalium. 2010.