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Related to primes: Primus, Twin primes

in (one's)/its prime

At the peak of one's or something's skill or physical ability; in one's or something's most successful or productive period. In its prime, the company developed some of the most influential video games of all times. I used to be able to bench press over 250 pounds when I was in my prime.
See also: prime

past (someone's or something's) prime

To no longer be in an ideal state or condition. Many gymnasts are past their prime when they are only teenagers. This computer is so slow that it's definitely past its prime.
See also: past, 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

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

prime the pump

COMMON If someone primes the pump, they take action to help something succeed or develop, usually by spending money on it. He said he would consider priming the pump through increased spending on roads or housing if the economy declined more rapidly than expected. Note: You can also talk about pump-priming, or say that someone pump-primes an economy or a project. I think we are going to have to do some more pump-priming in order to get the economy going. The plan offers a way of pump-priming an economy which is growing too slowly. Note: To prime a water pump means to pump it until it is full of water and all the air has been forced out, so that it is ready to be used.
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 ?
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.
Hook entirely supports the Prime Minister," assented Harker.
Or the Prime Minister entirely supports Hook," said Horne Fisher, and began idly to knock the balls about on the billiard table.
Everybody is saying," he said, "that the Prime Minister has made the greatest speech of his life.
There is another point," the Prime Minister continued.
The Duke assented, and waited while the secretary locked up the papers which the Prime Minister had been examining, and prepared others to be carried into the House.
Devenham," the Prime Minister said, "we were speaking, a few minutes ago, of Prince Maiyo.
I am afraid you are right," the Prime Minister declared.
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.
Another example of such a sequence is 5, 11, 17, 23, 29, in which successive primes differ by 6.
June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Command Credit Corporation (Nasdaq: CDMD) announced that it has acquired 88% of the outstanding shares of Prime Source, LLC, of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sometimes, the gap between primes is much smaller, other times much larger.