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1. Anthropol denoting or relating to a preliterate and nonindustrial social system
2. Biology
a. of, relating to, or resembling an early stage in the evolutionary development of a particular group of organisms
b. another word for primordial
3. showing the characteristics of primitive painters; untrained, childlike, or naive
4. Geology pertaining to magmas that have experienced only small degrees of fractional crystallization or crystal contamination
5. Obsolete of, relating to, or denoting rocks formed in or before the Palaeozoic era
6. Protestant theol of, relating to, or associated with a minority group that breaks away from a sect, denomination, or Church in order to return to what is regarded as the original simplicity of the Gospels
a. an artist whose work does not conform to traditional, academic, or avant-garde standards of Western painting, such as a painter from an African or Oceanic civilization
b. a painter of the pre-Renaissance era in European painting
c. a painter of any era whose work appears childlike or untrained
8. a work by such an artist
9. Maths a curve, function, or other form from which another is derived
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



originally, a work of art from the early period of the evolution of art. The concept of the “primitive” arose from the juxtaposition, characteristic of 18th- and 19th-century aesthetics and art studies, of “childish” and “mature” stages in the development of art. It was believed, especially beginning in the 18th century, that primitive art could be attractive by virtue of the wholeness and seeming simplicity of its pictorial organization. These features emerged most strongly when primitive works were compared with works representing the prevailing styles.

In modern art studies, the designation “primitive” has entirely lost all judgmental overtones and is purely a name. It is applied to works by late medieval artists (for example, the Italian primitives), to the art of peoples who have retained features of primitive communal society (this concept of primitive art, however, has currency only in foreign scholarship), to the work of artists who have not received systematic artistic training, and to the work of the representatives of primitivism.


Previtali, G. La Fortuna dei primitivi dal Vasari ai neoclassici. Turin, 1964.
Venturi, L. Il gusto dei primitivi. Turin, 1972.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
A sketchy specification, omitting details, of some action in a computer program.
(control systems)
A basic operation of a robot, initialized by a single command statement in the program that controls the robot.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A function, operator, or type which is built into a programming language (or operating system), either for speed of execution or because it would be impossible to write it in the language. Primitives typically include the arithmetic and logical operations (plus, minus, and, or, etc.) and are implemented by a small number of machine language instructions.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(1) See primitive data type.

(2) In computer graphics, an element that is used as a building block for creating images, such as a point, line, arc, cone or sphere.

(3) In programming, a fundamental instruction, statement or operation. See machine instruction.

(4) In microprogramming, a microinstruction, or elementary machine operation. See microcode.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
Primitive Survivors - Easy access to the most relevant tips and advice
I prefer using the primitive accumulation tag in its ordinary workaday meaning.
"In our study we found that developmental pathways toward definitive and primitive blood diverge early in the process, confirming that in vitro definitive blood does not develop from primitive blood," says first authorYekaterina Galat, BS, Research Associate at Manne Research Institute at Lurie Children's.
'These fossils have bones and teeth of primitive mammals.
Matrices which satisfy any of the above conditions are called primitive. The least such r such that [A.sup.r] is positive is called the primitive exponent (or simply, exponent) of A and is denoted by exp (A).
This new material is said to be the first physically unclonable security primitive that's created with this particular nanomaterial.
* Primitive - any operation, including convolution, data format reorder, and memory.
The Florida State University researchers found that mitochondria communicate changes in cellular organization to initiate a specific metabolic reconfiguration that supports primitive hMSC properties.
The Saudi society has to come to terms with the social narrow-mindedness of girls marrying to non-Saudis because this is a primitive thinking and is still pervading the Kingdom and harming the fabric of our society.
Because the massive RFID events generated by RFID devices are primitive events, and the semantic information inside the primitive events is limited, we can obtain only simple information from them.
Strangers Below: Primitive Baptists and American Culture.
John was a member of the Yarm Primitive Methodist Society, a superintendent of the Sunday School, a class leader and the treasurer of the trust.