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From Old French priorite, from Latin prioratus.

Morphologically prior +‎ -ity



priority (countable and uncountable, plural priorities)

  1. An item's relative importance.
    He set his e-mail message's priority to high.
  2. A goal of a person or an organisation.
    She needs to get her priorities straight and stop playing games.
  3. The quality of being earlier or coming first compared to another thing; the state of being prior.
    In bankruptcy law, a business' debt to its employees has priority over its debt to a landlord, so the employees must be paid first.
    • 2020 January 2, Graeme Pickering, “Fuelling the changes on Teesside rails”, in Rail, page 59:
      But it's now platform extension work which will allow the station to handle LNER Azuma trains which needs to take priority, if a direct service to London King's Cross is to begin in 2021.
  4. (taxonomy, of a name) A superior claim to use by virtue of being validly published at an earlier date.
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page viii:
      Neither [Jones] [] nor I (in 1966) could conceive of reducing our "science" to the ultimate absurdity of reading Finnish newspapers almost a century and a half old in order to establish "priority."
  5. Precedence; superior rank.
    • 1608, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Coriolanus, act 1, scene 1, line 244:
      Follow Cominius. We must follow you. / Right worthy you priority.
    • 1998, Mary Whitby, The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity, BRILL, →ISBN, page 308:
      Sozomen is not criticizing Constantine but rather asserting that bishops have priority over emperors, in case the readers might not have understood this []
    • 2007 November 1, Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman, Islam: Questions and Answers - Manners (Part 1), MSA Publication Limited, →ISBN, page 301:
      Who has priority, one's mother or one's wife? Question: To whom should a married man should give much preference, either his mother or wife?
    • 2010 January 1, A. W. Tozer, Tozer Speaks to Students: Chapel Messages Preached at Wheaton College, Moody Publishers, →ISBN:
      The Holy Ghost is here and He has priority—remember that. The Holy Ghost has priority over your pastor, your church, your teachers—priority over every human thing. He is God, and being God, His voice has priority over all voices, []
  6. (transport) Right of way; The right to pass (an intersection) before other road users.


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