Definition of primordial in English:



  • 1Existing at or from the beginning of time; primeval.

    ‘the primordial oceans’
    • ‘The evidence suggests that in its primordial phase the universe was in a highly simple, almost featureless state: perhaps a uniform soup of subatomic particles, or even just expanding empty space.’
    • ‘Three pillars of the model - the expansion of the universe, the cosmic microwave background, and primordial nucleosynthesis - make it hard to imagine any credible alternative.’
    • ‘Life seems to have originated in the primordial oceans that covered the Earth four billion years ago.’
    • ‘According to the science journal, Nature, we humans and the obscure worm Xenoturbella sprang from the same bit of the primordial gloop that graced our planet around half a million years ago.’
    • ‘Atmospheric water condensed into oceans and proto-life formed in the soup of primordial organic molecules, either in the early oceans or in clay or rocks within the crust itself.’
    • ‘Of course one is tempted to speculate on the primordial sound that created the universe, the om, from which, in the Indian tradition, the whole of creation emanated.’
    • ‘In short, merely pushing the question of the beginning of the universe back to some primordial quantum vacuum does not escape the problem of what brought this vacuum laden with energy into existence.’
    • ‘When you toy with the sanctity of that institution - as ancient, as primordial, as it is - you are shaking the core of a community.’
    • ‘It was the daring of visionaries that has brought us this far - from gloomy primordial marshes to where we are today - reaching for the galaxies reaching for immortality.’
    • ‘They are also said to represent the spiritual ark sent from the heavens that transported the eight primordial ancestors of the Dogon, who are represented on the outside of the vessel.’
    • ‘Her immense wooden sculptures refer to a primitive form of life in primordial worlds.’
    • ‘The Early Earth, scientists believe, was subjected to a bombardment by comets and asteroids, and heated to such a degree that its primordial oceans evaporated.’
    • ‘Orogeny and volcanism had generally been held to be associated with the contraction of the Earth, but the continents and oceans were regarded as primordial features, fixed in their positions since the crust first formed.’
    • ‘The work resembles a sub-human primordial design nesting deep inside creation itself; it seems to come from a place billions of years old, far removed from human consciousness.’
    • ‘If one considers that there was a kind of primordial instability leading to matter, space and time, then one sees that our universe is not an isolated system; it arose from something else.’
    • ‘That verse describes the initial conditions of primordial Earth: its surface was dark, covered with water, empty of life, and unfit for life.’
    • ‘Sometimes it has seemed difficult to separate the primordial pagan origins of holy well veneration in specific localities from the orthodox church-approved beliefs and devotional practices.’
    • ‘The ocean, besides symbolising primordial roots, relates to instinctive wisdom, secrets, and knowledge that lies buried within the depths of consciousness.’
    • ‘I'd never been to the rainforest, that forbidding, almost mythic wilderness with its undiscovered species, primordial vistas, and exotic tribes.’
    • ‘And from those measurements we found out that meteorites like this are a very, very primitive primordial material that can tell us about the formation of the planets because they date from planet forming times.’
    ancient, earliest, first, prehistoric, antediluvian, antique, primeval, primitive, primal
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    1. 1.1 (especially of a feeling or state) basic and fundamental.
      ‘the primordial needs of the masses’
      • ‘This is because fear of small creatures that scuttle about on four or more legs is a much more ancient, primordial fear, going straight back to caveman days.’
      • ‘He returned to the gut-wrenching night-time helplessness of childhood, the primordial fear of the dark which every human being suffers, must learn to deny, but can never forget.’
      • ‘Graffiti may be seen as a defacing or destructive activity, but it may also be said to derive from the primordial desire for mark-making which is reflected - although camouflaged by various degrees of sophistication - in all art.’
      • ‘Later, when I began to sing along with the Opera stars, it was my chance to express those blurred, but primordial feelings I had bottled-up inside a thin, nondescript physique.’
      • ‘For others, however, those rhythmic beats will stir imaginings of ancient celebrations and primordial feelings that continue to forge a spiritual bond with the land and the changing seasons.’
      • ‘It validates the most basic human instinct to return to our primordial source of warmth, comfort, security.’
      • ‘The concept of humanity initiated by Heidegger, which bases phenomenology on primordial anxiety, will be abandoned as fundamentally mistaken.’
      • ‘All these ancient and once much visited truths are stirred in the moment of hunting, and come vividly alive in us as we return, together with our two most trusted friends among the animals, to the primordial thrill of contest.’
      • ‘When we open our hearts and rest in the free expanse of what is given in our lives, we meet the vast mind of primordial compassion which goes far beyond any individual preoccupation, belief or fear.’
      • ‘Jurisdiction and natural justice invoke the primordial instinct of courts to second guess other tribunals and thus defeat the greatest benefit of arbitration, its finality.’
      • ‘This was no ordinary fear, but a primordial fear that came from the very roots of humanity itself, the fear that formed the basis of the self-preservation instinct.’
      • ‘At this precise moment, it felt as though the artist had successfully crafted a new reality for the chair; he twisted its original, everyday utility into a primordial, illusive impression.’
      • ‘Or rather, they allow all of these to flourish, instead of forcing us back into the last-ditch defence of tightly defined, monolithic, primordial allegiances.’
      • ‘It is not perfect, but it is primordial to view our world through different viewpoints and strive to take actions that serve the greatest good - not just one's personal convictions.’
      • ‘Whatever it was, I felt the primordial feeling of tears stinging at my eyes, and my breathing grew sharp and cutting, much colder than before.’
      • ‘There is nothing superfluous about his performance, in which primordial emotions are barely contained by his skin.’
      • ‘Water access is so primordial, the United Nations already recognizes it as a fundamental human right.’
      • ‘The mere sight of her would cause his primordial rage to subside.’
      • ‘To which, Levitt would say: ‘Cheating is a primordial economic act: getting more for less.’’
      • ‘The human body has been of primordial interest as an object of imagination, representation and investigation across millennia, from the earliest cave drawings to the present day mapping of the human genome.’
      instinctive, primitive, basic, primal, primeval, intuitive, intuitional, involuntary, inborn, innate, inherent, inbred, natural, congenital, hereditary, inherited, in the blood, ingrained
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    2. 1.2Biology (of a cell, part, or tissue) in the earliest stage of development.
      ‘primordial germ cells’
      • ‘RNA-based life was presumably not just loose genetic goop, but organized into primordial cells.’
      • ‘Stem cells extracted from human embryos are promising because they are primordial cells yet to be assigned a specific function, making them useful in the treatment of a wide variety of maladies.’
      • ‘Embryonic stem cells are primordial cells with the ability to morph into any type of cell in the body.’
      • ‘During human fetal development, the primordial germ cells migrate to and are incorporated within the developing ovary and are termed oogonia.’
      • ‘Dr Takeuchi and his colleagues took primordial germ cells from an embryonic North American rainbow trout and transplanted them into the embryos of the masu salmon, which is only found in east Asia.’


Late Middle English: from late Latin primordialis ‘first of all’, from primordius ‘original’ (see primordium).