primal

The adjective primal describes something that's essential or basic, like the primal urge to protect yourself and your family from harm.

The Latin root of primal is primus, which means first. If your friend talks about his primal self, he means the most basic, important part of who he is. You can think of this as a first priority, just as the primal urges of all animals is survival. Primal can also describe something that's original, or at its earliest stage, like a primal or primeval forest, the most ancient example of that kind of terrain.

Definitions of primal
1

adj having existed from the beginning; in an earliest or original stage or state

primal eras before the appearance of life on earth”
Synonyms:
aboriginal, primaeval, primeval, primordial
early
at or near the beginning of a period of time or course of events or before the usual or expected time

adj serving as an essential component

Synonyms:
cardinal, central, fundamental, key
important, of import
of great significance or value

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