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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Rising senior Cade Cunningham plays point guard but he's built like archetype wings of the past. Andrew Sharp,, "Who Is the Next Great USA Basketball Wing?," 5 Sep. 2019 According to Bastien, Bonnie deserved more than to be relegated to a Carefree Black Girl archetype. Kathleen Newman-bremang,, "How Big Little Lies Did Bonnie A Major Disservice By Ignoring Her Race," 23 July 2019 As the Vulture critic Angelica Jade Bastién pointed out: Despite a strong performance from Kravitz, absent any real grounding to her story, Bonnie is relegated to the Carefree Black Girl archetype that merely serves as a foil to the other women. Shamira Ibrahim, The Atlantic, "Will Big Little Lies Finally Show Up for Bonnie?," 21 July 2019 The plot is fueled by arch archetypes that infuriate the main character, Alceste, who prides himself on telling these poseurs the truth, no matter the cost. Nelson Pressley, Washington Post, "‘A Misanthrope’ brings Molière’s fabulous fakes into the 21st century," 5 June 2019 Jessalynn leaned into the stage-mom archetype, dressing her daughter in foofy handmade bows, partly to drum up some narrative tension. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Time, "'What Do People Want Me to Do? Wear Black Every Day?': How Child Star JoJo Siwa Built Her Sparkly Empire," 22 Aug. 2019 Mosley stands 6 feet 2, 250 pounds, the old-school archetype for an off-ball linebacker; Onwuasor is listed at 6-0, 225 pounds, a lighter but faster iteration. Jonas Shaffer,, "Ravens 2019 training camp preview: Linebacker," 21 July 2019 The industry has settled on an archetype that seems to be effectively telling the story: tall, slim 12-ounce cans with a predominantly white color scheme. Josh Noel,, "What’s the best hard seltzer? The worst? Is it a fad? We have answers.," 2 July 2019 The Emperor and Empress are the most obvious masculine and feminine archetypes, representing the polarities of father/mother, man/woman, masculine dominance and feminine sensuality. Lauren Kayes, Allure, "Written in the Cards: What Reading Tarot Taught Me About Gender," 12 June 2019

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

Listen to Our Podcast about archetype

Statistics for archetype

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for archetype

The first known use of archetype was in 1545

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on archetype

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


the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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