A primer gets you ready for what comes next. You could use one kind of primer when you are learning to read, or another kind when you are preparing to paint a room.

Any way you use the word primer, it's a first step or preparation for something else. There's primer you use before painting, and an engine primer that prepares a machine to be started. In these examples, primer rhymes with timer. When primer describes an introductory textbook, it rhymes with dimmer. In the 14th century, a primer was a prayer book. This word comes from primus, the Latin word for first.

Definitions of primer
  1. noun
    an introductory textbook
    see moresee less
    an introductory textbook to teach spelling
    a primer that provides instruction in the rudiments or basic skills of a branch of knowledge
    type of:
    school text, schoolbook, text, text edition, textbook
    a book prepared for use in schools or colleges
  2. noun
    any igniter that is used to initiate the burning of a propellant
    synonyms: fuse, fusee, fuze, fuzee, priming
    see moresee less
    detonating fuse
    a fuse containing an explosive
    safety fuse
    a slow-burning fuse consisting of a tube or cord filled or saturated with combustible matter; used to ignite detonators from a distance
    a fuse made to burn for a given time (especially to explode a bomb)
    type of:
    igniter, ignitor, light, lighter
    a device for lighting or igniting fuel or charges or fires
  3. noun
    the first or preliminary coat of paint or size applied to a surface
    synonyms: flat coat, ground, primer coat, priming, priming coat, undercoat
    see moresee less
    a flat coat of paint or varnish used by artists as a primer
    type of:
    coat of paint
    a layer of paint covering something else
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week