ar·che·type | \ ˈär-ki-ˌtīp \

Definition of archetype 

1 : the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies : prototype … the House of Commons, the archetype of all the representative assemblies which now meet … —Thomas Babington Macaulay also : a perfect example He is the archetype of a successful businessman.

3 psychology : an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual

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Other words from archetype

archetypal \ˌär-ki-ˈtī-pəl \ or less commonly archetypical \-ˈti-pi-kəl \ adjective
an archetypal English village
archetypally \-pə-lē \ or less commonly archetypically \-ˈti-pi-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

Archetype derives via Latin from the Greek adjective archetypos ("archetypal"), formed from the verb "archein" ("to begin" or "to rule") and the noun "typos" ("type"). ("Archein" also gave us the prefix arch-, meaning "principal" or "extreme" and used to form such words as "archenemy," "archduke," and "archconservative.") "Archetype" has specific uses in the fields of philosophy and psychology. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, for example, believed that all things have ideal forms (aka archetypes) of which real things are merely shadows or copies. And in the psychology of C. G. Jung, "archetype" refers to an inherited idea or mode of thought that is present in the unconscious of the individual. In everyday prose, however, "archetype" is most commonly used to mean "a perfect example of something."

Examples of archetype in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

These Agent Smiths represent an archetype of Putin’s new staff. Mikhail Zygar, Time, "Putin Believes He's Destined to Make Russia Great Again. And He's Just Getting Started," 19 Mar. 2018 Like the best artists in history, Beyoncé uses these tropes and archetypes to make new work that becomes its own kind of inside joke and artistry, a sonic way of playing the dozens with her enemies. Joshunda Sanders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything Is Love Is the Ultimate Ode to Black Freedom," 22 June 2018 In his studies of the Bible and literature, Frye showed that mythical archetypes were powerful and recurring, yes, but also subject to revision. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Jordan Peterson’s Tired Old Myths," 21 May 2018 The run-away-and-heal archetype established so many years ago by Halo is now toast. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 world’s first hands-on: Tight core, tons of questions," 18 May 2018 The title refers to Simone’s 1965 song about black female archetypes who suffer at society’s hands. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "1st pro theater in Charlotte ever to make it to 30 announces 2018-19 season | Charlotte Observer," 2 May 2018 Neither archetype is in any way inferior, is in any way more or less gay, or needs in any way to be a threat to the other. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Denying Genetics Isn’t Shutting Down Racism, It’s Fueling It," 30 Mar. 2018 The 2015 Warriors were astonishing, an entirely new basketball conception led by a fresh superstar archetype. Ben Golliver,, "Warriors' Greatness May Annoy Some but They Aren't Going Anywhere," 9 June 2018 His archetype is perhaps most daunting of all—the pitcher the Orioles don't want to get away. Jon Meoli,, "Orioles crushed, 11-1, by White Sox, owners of the American League's lowest-scoring offense," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'archetype.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of archetype

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for archetype

Latin archetypum, from Greek archetypon, from neuter of archetypos archetypal, from archein + typos type

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Last Updated

29 Aug 2018

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The first known use of archetype was in 1545

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More Definitions for archetype


ar·che·type | \ ˈär-ki-ˌtīp \

Medical Definition of archetype 

1a : a primitive generalized plan of structure deduced from the characters of a natural group of plants or animals and assumed to be the characteristic of the ancestor from which they are all descended

b : the original ancestor of a group of plants or animals

2 : an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual

Other words from archetype

archetypal \ˌär-ki-ˈtī-pəl \ adjective

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the setting in which something occurs

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