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in (one's)/its prime
At the peak of skill or physical ability; in the 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
No longer 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 was a confluence of events leading to his removal from office, it was the revelation of his tax evasion 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.
cut (one) off in (one's) prime
To cause the sudden end of something, such as one's life, when one is at the peak of their skill or physical ability, or in their most successful or productive period. It's so tragic that cancer cut that renowned tennis player off in his prime. Yeah, I used to lift weights, but chronic injuries cut me off in my prime.
cut (one) down in (one's) prime
To cause the sudden end of something, such as one's life, when one is at the peak of their skill or physical ability, or in their most successful or productive period. It's so tragic that cancer cut that renowned tennis player down in his prime. Yeah, I used to lift weights, but chronic injuries cut me down in my prime.
the prime of life
One's happiest, most successful time; the period when one has the most energy, vitality, and potential. Often structured as "the prime of (one's) life." My father was in the prime of life when he was diagnosed with cancer. It's many a man and woman who, in old age, looks back on the prime of their lives with bittersweet nostalgia.
in (one's) prime
In or during one's happiest, most successful time; in the period when one has the most energy, vitality, and potential. My father was in his prime when he was diagnosed with cancer. Back then, I was in my prime—if I was ever going to have a shot at the big time, that was it!
in the prime of life
In one's happiest, most successful time; in the period when one has the most energy, vitality, and potential. Often structured as "in the prime of (one's) life." My father was in the prime of life when he was diagnosed with cancer. It's many a man and woman who, in old age, looks back on the prime of their lives with bittersweet nostalgia.
prime (someone or something) with (something)
To prepare someone or something (for some action or activity) by supplying them or it with something. You'll need to prime the lawn mower with three pumps of gasoline before you will be able to start it. He primed me with various pieces of advice and information ahead of my meeting with the prime minister.
slang Drunk. We were all pretty well primed by the time we finished the third bottle of wine. The driver seemed primed to me, so I made her get out of the car and perform roadside sobriety test.
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.
prime of life, the
The best years of one’s life, at the peak of one’s powers. The idea that there should be a particular time of flourishing is an ancient one. Plato in The Republic defined it as a period of about twenty years in a woman’s life and thirty in a man’s. Poets, among them Robert Herrick and John Milton, generally equated one’s youth with one’s prime. However, the eccentric schoolteacher-heroine of Muriel Spark’s novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (and the 1969 motion picture based on it) declared the years of her rapidly advancing middle age to be her prime.
prime the pump, to
To help something to succeed, as by contributing money to a cause. This Americanism dates from the nineteenth century and literally means to pour liquid into a pump so as to expel any air and make it operate. During the years of the Great Depression the phrase began to be used figuratively, at first for government measures to stimulate the lagging economy. In time it began to be used in a far more general fashion, as T. Sharpe did in The Great Pursuit (1977), “Significance is all . . . prime the pump with meaningful hogwash.”