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Related to prime: prime time, Prime bank, Prime Suspect, Amazon Prime

in one's (or its) prime

Fig. at one's or its peak or best time. Our dog—which is in its prime—is very active. The building was in its prime back in the Fifties, but it has not been well maintained. I could work long hours when I was in my prime.
See also: prime

in the prime of life

Fig. in the best and most productive and healthy period of life. The good health of one's youth can carry over into the prime of life. He was struck down by a heart attack in the prime of life.
See also: life, of, prime

past someone's (or something's) prime

Fig. beyond the most useful or productive period. Joan was a wonderful singer, but she's past her prime now. This old car's past its prime. I'll need to get a new one.
See also: past, prime

prime mover

Fig. the force that sets something going; someone or something that starts something off. The assistant manager was the prime mover in getting the manager sacked. Discontent with his job was the prime mover in John's deciding to retire early.
See also: mover, prime

prime something with something

to enable something to start working or functioning with something. Larry primed the pump with a little water, and it began to do its work. We will prime the market for our new product with a free coupon offer.
See also: prime

in your/its prime

in someone's or something's best, most successful, or most productive stage She retired in her prime, but continued working part-time as a consultant. Though the magazine was in its prime, it stopped publication when the chief editor quit.
Usage notes: often used in the form in the prime of (your) life: The members of our squadron were in the prime of life.
See also: prime

past your/its prime

no longer able to do something at an acceptable level because of age over the hill The dancer was past her prime, though she performed occasionally as a guest artist.
See also: past, prime

a prime mover

someone who has a lot of influence in starting something important He was a prime mover in developing a new style of customer-friendly bookshops in the UK.
See also: mover, prime

prime the pump

  (mainly American)
to do something in order to make something succeed, especially to spend money European governments and banks are priming the pump world-wide looking for alternative energy.
See also: prime, pump

past one's prime

Beyond the peak of one's powers, as in Jean still plays tennis but at 79 she's obviously past her prime. Also see the synonym over the hill; prime of life.
See also: past, prime

prime mover

The initial source of energy directed toward a goal, someone or something that sets others in motion. For example, Jean was the prime mover in getting us more laboratory space, or Patriotism was the prime mover of the revolution. [Late 1600s]
See also: mover, prime

prime of life

The best years of one's life, when one is at the peak of one's powers, as in She was in the prime of life when she began to lose her sight. The related phrase in one's prime can be applied to objects as well as persons. For example, The roses were in their prime when you last saw them. In both idioms prime means "first in quality or character." [Early 1700s] Also see past one's prime.
See also: life, of, prime

prime the pump

Encourage the growth or action of something, as in Marjorie tried to prime the pump by offering some new issues for discussion. In the late 1800s this expression originally was used for pouring liquid into a pump to expel the air and make it work. In the 1930s it was applied to government efforts to stimulate the economy and thereafter was applied to other undertakings.
See also: prime, pump


mod. alcohol or drug intoxicated. The whole college was primed by midnight.
See also: prime

prime the pump

To encourage the growth or action of something.
See also: prime, pump
References in classic literature ?
Prime Minister of no small State, a man accustomed to command, going out to save life.
once Prime Minister of the progressive and enlightened State of Mohiniwala, and honorary or corresponding member of more learned and scientific societies than will ever do any good in this world or the next.
The Prime Minister prides himself on doing without a chauffeur, but he can't do without a factotum and Jack-of-all-trades; and poor old Bunker has to play the part of a universal genius, which God knows he was never meant for.
The Prime Minister wants to have a talk, he tells me, and, all things considered, I think we'd better be dressing for dinner.
The Prime Minister, Lord Merivale, who was a long, slim man with curly gray hair, was gravely complimentary to his host about his success as a fisherman and the skill and patience he displayed; the conversation flowed like the shallow stream through the stepping-stones.
A great loss to the community," said the Prime Minister, bowing.
You will be relieved to hear that there will be no war, that the Right Honourable Trelawney Hope will suffer no setback in his brilliant career, that the indiscreet Sovereign will receive no punishment for his indiscretion, that the Prime Minister will have no Europe an complication to deal with, and that with a little tact and management upon our part nobody will be a penny the worse for what might have been a very ugly incident.
The Prime Minister's manner was subdued, but I could see by the gleam of his eyes and the twitchings of his bony hands that he shared the excitement of his young colleague.
We shall have to have a serious talk," the Prime Minister said, "in a few days' time.
Heseltine thinks there's something behind this correspondence," the Prime Minister said slowly.
There is another point," the Prime Minister continued.
This so enraged the King that the Prime Minister was put
To commence with," Slim answered, "there were forty fat pigs, each worth a fathom of prime shell-money, and shell-money worth a quid a fathom.
Certainly, he said, both in men and women those years are the prime of physical as well as of intellectual vigour.
And the same law will apply to any one of those within the prescribed age who forms a connection with any woman in the prime of life without the sanction of the rulers; for we shall say that he is raising up a bastard to the State, uncertified and unconsecrated.