ar·​che·​type | \ ˈär-ki-ˌtīp How to pronounce archetype (audio) \

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 How to pronounce archetypal (audio) \ or less commonly archetypical \ ˌär-​ki-​ˈti-​pi-​kəl How to pronounce archetypical (audio) \ adjective
an archetypal English village
archetypally \ ˌär-​ki-​ˈti-​pə-​lē How to pronounce archetypally (audio) \ or less commonly archetypically \ ˌär-​ki-​ˈti-​pi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce archetypically (audio) \ 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 Verdict: The modern-day sports-sedan archetype doesn’t always feel fully modern. Jared Gall, Car and Driver, "Starter Sports Sedan Rivalry: Alfa vs. BMW vs. Genesis vs. Volvo," 24 Jan. 2020 Map of the Soul: 7 follows the group's 2019 EP, Map of the Soul: Persona, inspired by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung's major archetypes of the human mind: persona, shadow, ego, and self. Natalie Morin,, "A Few Things About BTS’ “Black Swan” The Internet Can’t Stop Thinking About," 17 Jan. 2020 The show subverts the archetypes–jocks, bullies and mean girls–we’ve come to expect from high school stories, making those characters feel deeply human. Naina Bajekal, Time, "'Brits Are Notoriously Prudish.' On Set With the Cast of Netflix's Sex Education," 16 Jan. 2020 These are the kind of situational setups that lead to riveting television, but also to glimpses of the characters as vulnerable human beings rather than comic archetypes. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "This Is What a Happy Ending Looks Like on Succession," 14 Oct. 2019 But in the fullness of time, the Flick archetype of female political ambition has taken on more nuance, with viewers understanding Tracy less as a villain and more as a creature of sexist and classist circumstance. 17. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, "The 34 best political movies ever made," 23 Jan. 2020 Here, beloved archetypes of musical theater are transformed into something more real and vital, infused with life by a guitar-picking, mesmerizing cast. Jessica Derschowitz,, "The 10 best stage shows of 2019," 13 Dec. 2019 Her latest series explores the archetype of the crappy (literally) mother. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential Arts: How Betye Saar’s ironing board shows racism’s dirty laundry," 28 Sep. 2019 The Bloodline Emmy winner and Marvel Skrull is practically his own archetype at this point: sad, searching eyes, ever-so-Bogart-ish lisp. Darren Franich,, "The Outsider throws a great cast into a Very Long Procedural: Review," 9 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for archetype

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The first known use of archetype was in 1545

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Archetype.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for archetype


ar·​che·​type | \ ˈär-ki-ˌtīp How to pronounce archetype (audio) \

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 How to pronounce archetypal (audio) \ adjective

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