Definition of prim in US English:



  • Stiffly formal and respectable; feeling or showing disapproval of anything regarded as improper.

    ‘a very prim and proper lady’
    • ‘At one point she thought she would laugh aloud at how prim and proper they both sounded, when just below the surface, tension seethed.’
    • ‘She was prim and proper, neat and tidy, and very strict.’
    • ‘While women have announced their need to be prim, proper and pampered, spas preach that it's not how you look once you leave, rather how you feel during the treatment and once you walk out.’
    • ‘She was even prim and proper during the bloopers at the end of her show.’
    • ‘The second was an elderly lady, prim and proper in her Victorian dress.’
    • ‘She has always seen her grandfather as the prim and proper man that her parents know, but as she spends the day with him, she learns that there is more to him than meets the eye.’
    • ‘There not very far from them sat the Princess, sitting very prim and proper, watching the fish play in the fountain pool.’
    • ‘She was a schoolteacher of English in Mississippi and presents herself as very prim, proper, and prudent.’
    • ‘Being a prim and proper spinster, Jane Austen did not use the family scandal in any of her novels.’
    • ‘Her mother spat fire whenever she caught Danielle sitting in any position other than the normal prim and proper, ramrod stiff spine lady pose.’
    • ‘She is from the 1960's, but extremely prim and proper, a very quiet, moral woman.’
    • ‘Like all such movies, the people are prim and proper on the surface; they all dress neatly and everyone walks around with unspoken emotions waiting to bubble forth to the surface.’
    • ‘There was no prim and proper lady to be seen near the Great Hall, for they had no great mind to walk outside whilst it was raining.’
    • ‘Looking prim and proper, and every inch a little lady, Miss Destiny looked demurely down at her hands.’
    • ‘It was true Lily was extraordinarily prim and proper when she started going to Alex's school.’
    • ‘Even the waiters, prim and proper and offering excellent service during the day, turn into veritable fleet-footed dancers in the evening, even dragging guests on to the floor.’
    • ‘Thus is the tone set early on, and it's decidedly at odds with our notions today of the prim and proper Victorians.’
    • ‘To meet, she's pleasant, if a little prim, with body language that suggests her guard is up.’
    • ‘She had the look of a prim and proper lady of the Victorian times, with her well tended hair, all neatly tied in a bun, and simple, ankle length dress.’
    • ‘The neighbors were prim and proper, from their impeccable manners down to their neatly manicured lawns.’
    demure, proper, prim and proper, formal, stuffy, strait-laced, prudish
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • Purse (the mouth or lips) into a prim expression.

    ‘Larry primmed up his mouth’
    • ‘"Really, Mr. North," she primmed her mouth to its most school teacherish, "I wish you would go".’
    • ‘Though she primmed her mouth at him, a dimple betrayed her.’


Late 17th century (as a verb): probably ultimately from Old French prin, Provençal prim ‘excellent, delicate’, from Latin primus ‘first’.