Etymology
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prime minister 

"leading minister of a government, the chief of the cabinet or ministry," 1640s, see prime (adj.) and minister (n.). Applied to the First Minister of State of Great Britain since 1694.

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prima facie (adv.)

of a case established by sufficient evidence, "manifestly, in a manner apparent to all," late 15c., Latin, literally "at first sight," ablative of prima facies "first appearance," from prima, fem. singular of primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + facies "form, face" (see face (n.)).

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prima donna (n.)

also primadonna, 1782, "principal female singer in an opera," from Italian prima donna "first lady," from Latin prima, fem. of primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + domina "lady" (see dame). Extended meaning "temperamental person" is attested by 1834.

The erroneous form premadonna (or pre-madonna) is attested from at least 1950s and increasingly after 1990s. Not to be confused with the adjective pre-Madonna (by 1991), in reference to popular music before the rise to stardom of Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone), c. 1985.

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primum mobile (n.)

"the first source of motion," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin (11c.), literally "the first movable thing;" see prime (adj.) + mobile.

In the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the tenth or outermost of the revolving spheres of the universe, which was supposed to revolve from east to west in twenty-four hours, and to carry the others along with it in its motion; hence, any great or first source of motion. [Century Dictionary]

A translation of Arabic al-muharrik al-awwal "the first moving" (Avicenna). Englished by Chaucer as the firste Moeuyng (c. 1400). Old science also had primum frigidum "pure cold: an elementary substance, according to the doctrine of Parmenides."


 

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