archetype

noun

ar·​che·​type ˈär-ki-ˌtīp How to pronounce archetype (audio)
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.
2
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
archetypal adjective
or less commonly archetypical
an archetypal English village
archetypally adverb
or less commonly archetypically

Did you know?

Archetype comes from the Greek verb archein ("to begin" or "to rule") and the noun typos ("type"). 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 But acting styles and cultural definitions of masculinity change with the decades, and the archetype of the hostile, mercurial acting artiste that Brando birthed appears to be dying out. Ty Burr, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2024 Giles tries his best to live up to the mythic hero archetype, but soon learns, over and over, that simply being human is complicated enough. Dave Kim, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for archetype 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'archetype.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of archetype was in 1545

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Dictionary Entries Near archetype

Cite this Entry

“Archetype.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/archetype. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

archetype

noun
ar·​che·​type ˈär-ki-ˌtīp How to pronounce archetype (audio)
: the original pattern or model from which something is copied
archetypal adjective

Medical Definition

archetype

noun
ar·​che·​type ˈär-ki-ˌtīp How to pronounce archetype (audio)
1
a
: 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
archetypal adjective

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