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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



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.


(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.


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.


(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.
References in periodicals archive ?
Tylopoda (oromerycids, camelids, oreodontoids, protoceratids): Ms primitively bunoselenodont, quadrate, each with mesostyle plus bitubercular distal lobe bearing enlarged metaconule as distolingual cusp; ectomesocuneiform (North American origin).
He is not in good health, having long suffered from maladies picked up by decades of living primitively during his fighting years and, more recently, from ravages of pneumonia.
Overall, big wars have been replaced around the world by small wars of the kind and magnitude more typical of hunter-gatherer and primitively agricultural societies.
Where I think the analogy, between connecting Judaism to politics and Mormonism to politics, breaks down somewhat is that Mormon theology (as I very primitively understand it) has certain inherently political things to say beyond the sort of Leviticus-style moral prescriptions you can find in any organized religion: about the role of voluntarism in society; about American exceptionalism.
Given the likelihood that they are primitively self-consciousness, chickens warrant a degree of moral standing that falls short of that enjoyed by persons, but which exceeds the minimal standing of merely conscious entities.
The psychic energies cast off through dissociation and splitting, the sacrificed aspects of self, do not simply disappear into thin air, but rather continue in split off form as a primitively organized alternative self.
Psychology and psychiatry are complex (and primitively developed) sciences; theology is complex and, by it its very nature, full of obscurity and mystery.
The fated battlefield was centered around a primitively constructed house of worship known as Shiloh Church and consisted of a line of engagement that extended--like the 1815 Battle of Waterloo--for three full miles.
Agonistic Behavior, Social Interactions, and Behavioral Specialization in a Primitively Eusocial Bee.
Villagers in surrounding hills are seen as more in need because most of their primitively built houses were destroyed and they would be caught in the open if there is early snow.
It is a challenge to articulate exactly how primitively and instinctively satisfied a hunter feels with a freshly killed bird in hand.