primitive

When we talk about "primitive man", we're usually talking about cavemen and other people who existed before the advent of table manners, but if your uncle speaks grunts and chews with his mouth open, you could describe him as primitive too.

Primitive is related to the word prime, and the root of both words is primus, which is Latin for "first." Since the phrase "primitive man" refers to the world's first people, you might think that the word primate has something to do with the similarity between early humans and monkeys, but it doesn't. Monkey, apes, and humans are called primates because they're seen as standing on the first, or highest, rung of the animal-kingdom ladder.

Definitions of primitive
  1. adjective
    little evolved from or characteristic of an earlier ancestral type
    primitive mammals”
    “the okapi is a short-necked primitive cousin of the giraffe”
    synonyms: archaic
    early
    being or occurring at an early stage of development
  2. adjective
    used of preliterate or tribal or nonindustrial societies
    primitive societies”
    Synonyms:
    noncivilised, noncivilized
    not having a high state of culture and social development
  3. noun
    a person who belongs to an early stage of civilization
    synonyms: primitive person
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    examples:
    Odovacar
    Germanic barbarian leader who ended the Western Roman Empire in 476 and became the first barbarian ruler of Italy (434-493)
    types:
    show 16 types...
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    Aryan, Indo-European
    a member of the prehistoric people who spoke Proto-Indo European
    autochthon
    the earliest known inhabitants of a region
    Basket Maker
    early Amerindians related to the Pueblo; known for skill in making baskets
    cave dweller, cave man, caveman, troglodyte
    someone who lives in a cave
    Heidelberg man, Homo heidelbergensis
    a type of primitive man who lived in Europe
    ape-man, missing link
    hypothetical organism formerly thought to be intermediate between apes and human beings
    Mound Builder
    prehistoric Amerindians who built altar mounds
    Piltdown hoax, Piltdown man
    a supposedly primitive man later proven to be a hoax
    barbarian, savage
    a member of an uncivilized people
    feral man, wild man
    a person who is not socialized
    ape-man
    a person assumed to have been raised by apes
    anthropophagite, anthropophagus, cannibal, man-eater
    a person who eats human flesh
    head-shrinker, headhunter
    a savage who cuts off and preserves the heads of enemies as trophies
    hunter-gatherer
    a member of a hunting and gathering society
    Vandal
    a member of the Germanic people who overran Gaul and Spain and North Africa and sacked Rome in 455
    wolf boy
    a male person assumed to have been raised by wolves
    type of:
    individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul
    a human being
  4. adjective
    belonging to an early stage of technical development; characterized by simplicity and (often) crudeness
    primitive movies of the 1890s”
    primitive living conditions in the Appalachian mountains”
    synonyms: crude, rude
    early
    being or occurring at an early stage of development
  5. adjective
    of or created by one without formal training; simple or naive in style
    primitive art such as that by Grandma Moses is often colorful and striking”
    synonyms: naive
    untrained
    not disciplined or conditioned or made adept by training
  6. noun
    a mathematical expression from which another expression is derived
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    type of:
    expression, formula
    a group of symbols that make a mathematical statement
  7. noun
    a word serving as the basis for inflected or derived forms
    “`pick' is the primitive from which `picket' is derived”
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    type of:
    word
    a unit of language that native speakers can identify
Word Family