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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.
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.
The person or thing that generates the initial energy or momentum for something to happen. The newly elected congresswoman has been the prime mover in the recent environmental reforms. While there were a confluence of events leading to his removal from office, it was the revelation of his tax evasion over the years that was the prime mover.
prime the pump
To take action that encourages the growth of something or helps it to succeed. While the government was forced to slash public expenditures following the major economic crash, they've recently begun priming the pump again across the public sectors. The only way we'll get this project off the ground is if one of the directors of the company primes the pump.
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.
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.
prime the pumpmainly AMERICAN, JOURNALISM
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.
cut someone off (or down) in their primebring someone's life or career to an abrupt end while they are at the peak of their abilities.
prime the pumpstimulate or support the growth or success of something, especially by supplying it with money.
This phrase is used literally of a mechanical pump into which a small quantity of water needs to be poured before it can begin to function.
1977 Tom Sharpe The Great Pursuit Significance is all…Prime the pump with meaningful hogwash.
in the prime of (your) ˈlifeat the time in your life when you are strongest or most successful: He was struck down in the prime of his life by a heart attack. ♢ What do you mean, I’m old? I’m still in the prime of life! OPPOSITE: be past your/its best
a prime ˈmovera person or a thing that starts something and has an important influence on its development: The prime mover in setting up the group was ex-lawyer James Stanley. ♢ Economic factors are the prime mover of change.
prime the ˈpumpgive somebody, an organization, etc. financial help in order to support a project, business, etc. when it is beginning: The government should really prime the pump in new high technology projects. That’s the only way they’ll be able to survive in the current economic climate. ▶ ˈpump-priming noun: The nation is relying on pump-priming to get the economy started.Originally, this was a way of making a pump work properly by adding water to it.
mod. alcohol or drug intoxicated. The whole college was primed by midnight.
prime the pumpInformal
To encourage the growth or action of something.