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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
mod. alcohol or drug intoxicated. The whole college was primed by midnight.
prime the pumpInformal
To encourage the growth or action of something.