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From Latin elementārius (elementary), from elementum (one of the four elements of antiquity; fundamentals) + -ārius (adjective-forming suffix). Cognate with French élémentaire.


  • Hyphenation: el‧e‧men‧ta‧ry


elementary (comparative more elementary, superlative most elementary)

  1. Relating to the basic, essential or fundamental part of something.
  2. Relating to an elementary school.
  3. (physics) Relating to a subatomic particle.
    • 2012 March 1, Jeremy Bernstein, “A Palette of Particles”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 146:
      The physics of elementary particles in the 20th century was distinguished by the observation of particles whose existence had been predicted by theorists sometimes decades earlier.
  4. (archaic) Sublunary; not celestial; belonging to the sublunary sphere, to which the four classical elements (earth, air, fire and water) were confined; composed of or pertaining to these four elements.

Derived terms[edit]