prime, noun

Origin:
EnglishShow more Perhaps from English primary (wing-feather), or absolute use of adjective (see quotation 1881).
Ostrich-farming
A long, pure white feather of the highest quality, taken from the wing of a cock ostrich; white noun sense 1. See also blood, byock, feather sense a, wing.
[c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 80The sorter will first take in hand the cock’s quill feathers; these he will — feather by feather — sort first into heaps consisting of prime whites.]
1896 R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 234White primes and bloods, superior cut or light quills..£6.10.0 to £9.10.0 per lb.
1910 A.B. Lamont Rural Reader 144First in importance come the white feathers on the wings. These fetch the best price, and are known as ‘primes’.
1911 O. Evans in S. Playne Cape Col. 55The process of clipping consists merely of cutting first the long white feathers, known as ‘primes’, which grow in a single row on the wing.
1930 M.F. Wormser Ostrich Indust. in S. Afr. 11The whites and feminas grow in a single row at the outside edge of the wing...The primes or whites of the cock are of a superior quality to the feminas of the hen, the latter not being a pure white and often fringed with grey.
1956 P.J. Botha in Farmer’s Weekly 14 Mar.The market for the aristocrat of feathers — wing ‘primes’ — is still in the doldrums.
1968 J. Le Roux in F. Goldie Ostrich Country 57Because one knows what primes were worth in the old days, one always hopes.
1973 D.J. Maree in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. VIII. 398The highest price for selected primes (whites) recorded on the London market before 1914 was £112 per lb.
A long, pure white feather of the highest quality, taken from the wing of a cock ostrich; whitenoun1.

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18811973