• primordial •
Pronunciation: prai-mor-di-êl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Related to the time when the Earth or universe began, primeval. 2. Before history was written. 3. Original, earliest. 4. Basic, fundamental.
Notes: Primordial fundamentally connotes the earth or universe, while primeval generally refers to the history of the world. Of course, these meanings overlap and often the two are used interchangeably. The adverb accompanying this adjective is primordially, and the noun, primordiality.
In Play: The basic sense of today's Good Word refers to the earliest stages of development of celestial bodies or the universe: "No one knows how living cells arose from the ooze of primordial Earth." However, its figurative uses expanded this sense materially: "Turn-taking is a primordial instinct of babies cooing to their mothers before they learn their first word."
Word History: This word was based on Late Latin primordialis, from Latin primordium "origin", made up of primus "first" (origin also of English prime) + ordiri "to begin", from ordo "row, series". The original PIE root was ar- "joint", which turned up as is (was?) in Sanskrit meaning "to go, to push upward". With a different suffix, -m, Greek inherited it as harmos "joint, shoulder", which went into the making of harmonia "harmony". The same root produced Latin armus "shoulder, upper arm". It also turned up in Old Germanic as armaz, which English converted to arm and German, to Arm.