To say a man is close to a primate, what should I use, "primatic" or "primative"?
closed as general reference by user19148, J.R., simchona, Kit Z. Fox♦, Mark Beadles Jul 31 '12 at 13:20
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Primate as an adjective is a “rare and obsolete” word meaning, per the OED:
† B. adj. First, earliest. Obs. rare.
1554-9 Songs & Ball. (1860) 5 ― The gates infernall, Wheryn ower primat parent had closyd us.
1580 Hollyband Treas. Fr. Tong, ― Premier, first or primate.
You don’t want primate as an adjective, I’m sure you’ll agree.
However, you may use the noun primate attributively, in which case it has the normal sense:
4. Zool. (Usually with pronunciation
/ˈpraɪmeɪt/.) A mammal belonging to the order Primates, which includes man, apes, monkeys, and several groups of prosimians. Also attrib.
And here are two of the attributive citations:
- 1967 J. R. & P. H. Napier Handbk. Living Primates p. v, ― Animal behaviour, ecology and genetic biology··today dominate basic research trends in primate biology.
- 1977 Rainier III & Bourne Primate Conservation p. xviii, ― All authors of this book agreed that the royalties earned should be used to further primate conservation.
In “primate biology” and “primate conservation”, the word primate is not an adjective, because you do not need one; it is a noun used attributively in a noun–noun compound. That does not make it an adjective, but that’s perfectly fine.
The catarrhine apes do not include all primates; it excludes the lemurs and such.
The adjectival form for primate in that sense is primatal, per the OED. About primatial it says that it has two sense, the first being related to the princes of the church, and the second being:
- 2. Zool. Of or pertaining to the mammalian order Primates: more properly primatal.
Perhaps you would like to use the adjective primatal:
priˈmatal, a. (sb.) Zool. rare.
Of or pertaining to the order Primates. Also as sb., An animal of this order.
- 1870 Cobbold in Athenæum 8 Oct. 468/2 ― It was··held that either of these groups, as we now know them, might have been separately evolved from more generalized primatal types··. The assumedly missing tertiary primatals constituted a great and natural bar to the popular acceptance of the theory of descent by natural selection.
It is, however rare. I would use the attributive noun instead.
You really do not want to use either 'primatic' or 'primative' (as they are not recognized suffixed extensions of 'primate'). Also, 'primatial' mean something else (something specific to the Catholic church). And 'primatal' is just not used at all. 'Primitive' is a very good English word but means 'basic' and has nothing to do with apes.
Interestingly, the formal adjective form of the noun 'primate' is:
as in 'Primate mating behavior is much more varied than that of other mammals.'. But you cannot say 'That man is primate'.
The analogous literary to feline, canine, porcine is
as in 'The detective had simian features, a large brow, hair down his back...' or 'That man is simian.' .
Informally, there really is no appropriate cognate word, and the best way to say it would be
as in 'The ape-like man crushed the bottle with his bare hands.' or 'That man is ape-like.' .
If none of the previous suggestions work for you, consider the adjective catarrhine, "Describing the Catarrhini parvorder of primates (including humans) that have nostrils that are close together and directed frontward or downward". By the way, to "say a man is close to a primate" is to make a statement about one person. To speak of everyone, say something like "Humans are primates."