Recorded in various spellings including Prim, Prime and Prynne (English), Primo (Italian), Primarolo (Spanish & Portugese), Primak (Jewish and Slavic), this is a surname of Roman (Latin) origins. It derives from the ancient word 'primus' meaning first, and was used in a variety of different ways. Usually in Europe it described a first born son, but it may have been used a distinguishing nickname within a family, as in some countries it was the tradition to give all sons born to a family, the same name, invariably the father's! Not surprsingly this lead to considerable problems of identity which was solved by calling the sons say John Primo, John Secundus, John Tres and so on, in the order in which they were born. At a later date these developed as surnames in their own right. Certainly in England where boys in particular were often called by their surname, it became the tradition for sons to be called Major, Minor and even Minimus. The Jewish-Slavic spelling of Primak may have the same meaning, or it may refer to an adopted child, or even more strangely to a married student of Jewish Law, who was traditionally supported by his Father-in-Law during his study period upto his degree.
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