Definition of primogeniture in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The state of being the firstborn child.

    • ‘Maui and Tahaki are famous mythological heroes in Polynesia and they have more powerful manas than their elder brothers, though they are not the primogenitures.’
    • ‘After the sin the primogenitures lost their privilege of serving in the Holy Temple and it was given to the Levites, who had abstained from the sin.’
    1. 1.1The right of succession belonging to the firstborn child, especially the feudal rule by which the whole real estate of an intestate passed to the eldest son.
      • ‘My claim is based on primogeniture, that I came from the first born and am therefore first in line.’
      • ‘On his deathbed Richard named John as his heir, although by the law of primogeniture Arthur, the son of an older brother, Geoffrey, should have succeeded him.’
      • ‘In the odd way of primogeniture it was said that were Nina-Cecilia a male she would have been the Duke of Portland.’
      • ‘The system of inheritance that is generally prevalent in Europe is the rule of primogeniture - that is to say, all the property of the deceased goes to the eldest son and all the other children are totally deprived of it.’
      • ‘The great families of England were built on this principle of primogeniture of sons and their properties were not dissipated as the properties of European nobility were.’
      • ‘That pattern persists in some rural communities, although primogeniture has been illegal since 1804 under the Napoleonic Code.’
      • ‘But to avoid fiefs being subdivided and becoming non-viable, the rule of primogeniture prevailed, whereby the eldest son inherited the entire estate.’
      • ‘Other exceptions to the practice of primogeniture included burghs and the county of Kent, where an alternative system of inheritance existed, known as gavelkind, under which land was divided equally between all sons.’
      • ‘The people of Spiti have a system of polyandry and primogeniture to combat the short supply of resources that are available in the raw mountains.’
      • ‘As part of the feudal system, primogeniture maintained the political and social status of the aristocracy.’
      • ‘The rule of male primogeniture, by which the eldest son of a monarch becomes king even if he has an elder sister, will end if a bill published today is passed.’
      • ‘From feudalism a clan chief gained the concept of absolute ownership of land, and the system of succession by primogeniture.’
      • ‘Mr Mackinlay is also calling for changes to rules restricting the religion of who can marry the heir to the throne, and on primogeniture - the process by which the throne passes first down the male line.’
      • ‘It is only Puru, the youngest, who agrees and inherits Yayati's throne, with the people being summoned and explained at length why primogeniture has not been followed.’
      • ‘Inheritance customs stress the right of primogeniture, which gives preference to the oldest brother.’
      • ‘The old rule of primogeniture was abandoned, leading indirectly to the breaking up of collections as all heirs shared equally in an estate.’
      • ‘She finds that mothers used testamentary legacies to balance the inequality among children required by primogeniture: they may even privilege the cadets over the first-born son.’
      • ‘Anglo-Saxon liberalism derives from the relative independence of children from parents and from the inequality among brothers reflected in primogeniture.’
      • ‘My father believed in primogeniture, where the eldest son gets everything, so as the third son I was, relatively speaking, on my own.’
      • ‘She said that African customary law of inheritance traditionally followed the rule of primogeniture - or oldest ancestor - where the oldest male relative inherited the estate.’


Early 17th century: from medieval Latin primogenitura, from Latin primo first + genitura geniture.