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adjective ex·em·pla·ry \ig-ˈzem-plə-rē\

Simple Definition of exemplary

  • : extremely good and deserving to be admired and copied

  • : serving as an example of something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of exemplary

  1. 1 a :  serving as a pattern b :  deserving imitation :  commendable <his courage was exemplary>; also :  deserving imitation because of excellence <they serve exemplary pastries — G. V. Higgins>

  2. 2 :  serving as a warning :  monitory <given an exemplary punishment>

  3. 3 :  serving as an example, instance, or illustration <this story is exemplary of her style>

exemplarily play \ˌeg-ˌzem-ˈpler-ə-lē\ adverb
exemplariness play \ig-ˈzem-plə-rē-nəs\ noun
exemplarity play \ˌeg-ˌzem-ˈpla-rə-tē\ noun

Examples of exemplary in a sentence

  1. Each cantina has its own style, but almost all of them share several key traits: uniformed waiters offering exemplary service, a trio of musicians strolling from table to table playing songs on request, lots of men playing dominoes, plenty of good tequila and cold beer, and tasty home-cooked botanas (snacks) served free with each round of drinks. —Chris Humphrey, National Geographic Traveler, September 2008

  2. A few Hollywood couples stayed hitched—Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, 50 years and counting—but such exemplary marriages had less entertainment value than the connubial career of, say, Elizabeth Taylor, eight times wed and divorced, including two volatile turns with Richard Burton. —Richard Corliss, Time, 28 Jan. 2008

  3. Among the most important factors that distinguished the best Civil War regiments from the mediocre ones were the quality and exemplary courage of their officers. —James M. McPherson, New York Review of Books, 6 Oct. 2005

  4. <as a hospital volunteer you have given exemplary service to your community>

  5. <armies have traditionally used public execution as an exemplary punishment for the crime of desertion>

Did You Know?

Since the late 1500s, "exemplary" has been used in English for things deserving imitation. The word (and its close relatives "example" and "exemplify") derives from the Latin noun exemplum, which means "example." Usage commentators have sometimes warned against using "exemplary" as if it were simply a synonym of "excellent," but clear-cut instances of such usage are hard to come by. When "exemplary" describes something excellent, as it often does, it almost always carries the further suggestion that the thing described is worthy of imitation.

Origin of exemplary

(see exemplar)

First Known Use: circa 1507

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up exemplary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the range of perception or understanding

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