archetype

noun
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 Carl Gustav Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from archetype

archetypal \ ˌär-​ki-​ˈtī-​pəl How to pronounce archetype (audio) \ or less commonly archetypical \ ˌär-​ki-​ˈti-​pi-​kəl How to pronounce archetype (audio) \ adjective
an archetypal English village
archetypally \ ˌär-​ki-​ˈti-​pə-​lē How to pronounce archetype (audio) \ or less commonly archetypically \ ˌär-​ki-​ˈti-​pi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce archetype (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 At the heart of Gitaroo Man is a young boy named U-1, an all-around loser archetype who gets bullied by his classmates. Michael J. Seidlinger, Wired, 24 June 2021 As the show develops the audience learns more about each character, glimpsing the person beneath the archetype. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 13 Sep. 2021 Then, a break from the archetype: three models received slashes of heart-stopping eyeshadow to compliment the pops of color—electric fuchsia! Celia Ellenberg, Vogue, 9 Sep. 2021 The woman who defined the socialite-heiress archetype for a generation is obviously getting married in a three-day wedding extravaganza that will include as many as 10 outfit changes. Elizabeth Loga, Glamour, 18 Aug. 2021 The use of a north-south V-12 engine behind its passenger compartment created the archetype for the modern supercar; the earlier Miura’s mid-mounted engine was fitted transversely. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 13 Aug. 2021 Philip Phillips, a physicist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign who was not involved with the experiment, described Wigner crystals as an archetype for all such systems. Quanta Magazine, 12 Aug. 2021 The internet Beebo Russell is an archetype: a modern-day Icarus whose dramatic dying act has become a blank slate for others to project meaning upon that informs their own lives. Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, 24 June 2021 Such anchors reflected the authority figure archetype of college dean or Fortune 500 executive: a conventional, well-coiffed conduit. Star Tribune, 21 June 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About archetype

Time Traveler for archetype

Time Traveler

The first known use of archetype was in 1545

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About archetype

Dictionary Entries Near archetype

Archetista

archetype

archeus

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for archetype

Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Archetype.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/archetype. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for archetype

archetype

noun
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 archetype (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on archetype

Nglish: Translation of archetype for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of archetype for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about archetype

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!