Definition of secondary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsekənˌderē/


1Coming after, less important than, or resulting from someone or something else that is primary: luck plays a role, but it’s ultimately secondary to local knowledge
More example sentences
  • But, important as it was, it was still secondary to Johnny's primary concern and that was people.
  • Each group or person has individual goals - but in a partnership, they have to be secondary to the primary joint goal.
  • In some senses, the race is secondary to the social importance of this event.
less important, subordinate, lesser, minor, peripheral, incidental, ancillary, subsidiary, nonessential, inessential, of little account, unimportant
accompanying, attendant, concomitant, consequential, resulting, resultant
1.1 [attributive] Relating to education for children from the age of eleven to sixteen or eighteen: a secondary school
More example sentences
  • All four colleges provided training for secondary school teachers on integrated academic curricula.
  • I teach them for eight years before they go to boarding school to complete their secondary education.
  • Primary education lasts until the age of eleven, followed by secondary education.
1.2Having a reversible chemical reaction and therefore able to store energy.
Example sentences
  • ATP is the power molecule used all over organisms and their cells to power the secondary reactions that keep us alive.
1.3Relating to or denoting the output side of a device using electromagnetic induction, especially in a transformer.
Example sentences
  • Apply the ac voltage to the primary winding and expect output voltage at the secondary side.
  • The burst in current causes a change in voltage in the secondary coil, which in turn causes a change in voltage in the feedback coil.
  • The reverse polarity creates a peak current about twice as high as the six amps of coil current on the primary side, and a higher peak-to-peak current on the secondary side.
2 (Secondary) Geology former term for Mesozoic.
Example sentences
  • We learn that there was a time when Cephalopoda were the highest types of animal life; and that during the secondary period they were anatomically raised far above any forms of the reptile class now living in the world.
  • These big limestone tables are formed in the secondary era.
3 Chemistry (Of an organic compound) having its functional group located on a carbon atom that is bonded to two other carbon atoms.
Example sentences
  • Similar to ions, secreted secondary compounds are positioned to be leached to the soil, in some cases for the purpose of contributing to allelopathy.
  • Manufacture of ketones can also be carried out by the dehydrogenation of a secondary alcohol at high temperature.
  • Just aft of the close-coupled catalyst sits a particulate filter and secondary oxidation catalyst.
3.1(Chiefly of amines) derived from ammonia by replacement of two hydrogen atoms by organic groups.
Example sentences
  • Reaction with nitrous acid is used to distinguish between primary, secondary, and tertiary amines.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants may be categorized as secondary or tertiary amines.
  • The acidic pH of the stomach would favour the nitrosation of secondary and tertiary amines in the quid.

noun (plural secondaries)

1Short for.
Example sentences
  • The Government has been accused of distorting school league tables in a bid to persuade secondaries to impose its new diploma on pupils.
  • Schools across the country can use lotteries to stop middle-class children dominating the best secondaries, a Government minister said last night.
  • The expansion plans will be welcomed by parents who have found the existing church secondaries heavily oversubscribed.
1.1 Ornithology A secondary feather.
Example sentences
  • One or more additional layers of shorter feathers may overlie the proximal parts of the flight primaries and secondaries.
  • Characteristics shared with other Apodiformes include: tiny feet, long wings with long primaries, short humeri and short secondaries.
  • The white secondaries of each wing were clearly visible, separated by the black back of the bird, and they reached all the way to the trailing edge of the wings.
1.2A secondary coil or winding in an electrical transformer.
Example sentences
  • Each secondary will feature 672 voice-coil actuators, now in the final stages of fabrication in Italy.
2 American Football The players in the defensive backfield, or the area these players cover.
Example sentences
  • They also don't have the passing game to burn Baltimore's suspect secondary.
  • Busted assignments, especially by a young secondary, have led to huge plays.
  • Just as important, he is a stabilizing element in a young secondary.
3 (the Secondary) Geology , dated The Secondary or Mesozoic era.



Example sentences
  • Even the way in which Eliza on the ice, Eva on her deathbed, or Tom's whipping at the hands of Legree persist as types outside of the novel suggests a certain unreality or secondariness about the novel's world.
  • The difference here is that the transformative power of echo is also used to assert an authoritative position, hence complicating the gendered association between echo and secondariness.
  • And history it seems is not a text, a reproduction; or at least the question is avoided by pointing at the allegedly exemplary secondariness of literature.


Late Middle English: from Latin secundarius 'of the second quality or class', from secundus (see second1).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sec·ond·ar·y

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