(noun) The custom, law, principle, or tradition granting inheritance of a family estate to the first born or eldest child.

Example: The traditional method of succession for the British throne.

Audio Pronunciation: (pri·mo·gen·i·ture)

Download Audio Pronunciation: primogeniture.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • There is vast array of rule variation relating to primogeniture across societies and cultures and the reasons for its use. The primary reason however, is to maintain and consolidate a family’s money and property and therefore their power and influence.
  • Primogeniture inheritance regardless of sex is called cognatic primogeniture, if only a male can inherit it is called patrilineal primogeniture, and if only females can inherit it is called matrilineal primogeniture.
  • Ultimogeniture is the opposite of primogeniture and in contrast, partible inheritance is when inheritance is divided more or less equally among heirs.
  • Secundogeniture refers to inheritance granted to the second oldest child and tertiogeniture refers to inheritance granted to the third oldest child.
  • A type of inheritance.
  • Also called right of primogeniture.
  • Primogeniture used in a sentence: I am lucky, I am the oldest and my family practices primogeniture, so I will inherit the family estate.
  • Derived terms sentence: My brother is the oldest and inherited the family farm because the (adjective) primogenital or (adjective) primogenitary rule.

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 


Works Consulted

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Farlex. (N.d.) Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus. Farlex. (

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (


How to Cite the Definition of Primogeniture

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “primogeniture.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 18, 2018 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

primogeniture. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “primogeniture.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 18, 2018.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“primogeniture.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2018. <>.