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From the Latin secundārius (of the second class or quality), from secundus (whence the English second) + -ārius (whence the English suffix -ary); compare the French secondaire, the Italian secondario, the Occitan secundari, the Portuguese secundario, and the Spanish secundario.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈsɛkənd(ə)ɹɪ/
  • (file)


Latinate ordinals
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secondary (comparative more secondary, superlative most secondary)

  1. Next in order to the first or primary; of second place in origin, rank, etc.
  2. Originating from a deputy or delegated person or body
    the work of secondary hands
  3. (organic chemistry) Derived from a parent compound by replacement of two atoms of hydrogen by organic radicals
  4. (geology) produced by alteration or deposition subsequent to the formation of the original rocks mass
  5. (geology) developed by pressure or other causes.
    secondary cleavage
  6. (anatomy) Pertaining to the second joint of the wing of a bird.
  7. (medicine) Dependent or consequent upon another disease, or occurring in the second stage of a disease.
    Bright's disease is often secondary to scarlet fever.
    the secondary symptoms of syphilis
  8. Of less than primary importance.
    a secondary issue
    • 1992, Deborah Bernstein, Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-state Israel, page 227:
      the problem of sexual equality became even more secondary than before in the eyes of the kibbutz and of its women members.
  9. (education) related to secondary education, i.e. schooling between the ages of 11 and 18
  10. (manufacturing) relating to the manufacture of goods from raw materials.
  11. (of a color) Formed by mixing primary colors.
    Yellow is a secondary light color, though a primary CMYK color.

Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



secondary (plural secondaries)

  1. (ornithology) Any flight feather attached to the ulna (forearm) of a bird.
  2. (finance) An act of issuing more stock by an already publicly traded corporation.
  3. (American football, Canadian football) The defensive backs.
  4. (electronics) An inductive coil or loop that is magnetically powered by a primary in a transformer or similar
  5. One who occupies a subordinate or auxiliary place; a delegate deputy.
    the secondary, or undersheriff, of the city of London
    • Shakespeare
      Old Escalus [] is thy secondary.
  6. (astronomy) A secondary circle.
  7. (astronomy) A satellite.
  8. (education) A secondary school.
    There are four secondaries in this district, each with several thousand pupils.
  9. Anything secondary or of lesser importance.