ex·am·ple | \ig-ˈzam-pəl \

Definition of example 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated a good example

2 : a punishment inflicted on someone as a warning to others also : an individual so punished

3 : one that is representative of all of a group or type

4 : a parallel or closely similar case especially when serving as a precedent or model

5 : an instance (such as a problem to be solved) serving to illustrate a rule or precept or to act as an exercise in the application of a rule

for example \fər-ig-ˈzam-pəl, frig- \

: as an example there are many sources of air pollution; exhaust fumes, for example


exampled; exampling\ig-ˈzam-p(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of example (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to serve as an example of

2 archaic : to be or set an example to

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Choose the Right Synonym for example


instance, case, illustration, example, sample, specimen mean something that exhibits distinguishing characteristics in its category. instance applies to any individual person, act, or thing that may be offered to illustrate or explain. an instance of history repeating itself case is used to direct attention to a real or assumed occurrence or situation that is to be considered, studied, or dealt with. a case of mistaken identity illustration applies to an instance offered as a means of clarifying or illuminating a general statement. a telling illustration of Murphy's Law example applies to a typical, representative, or illustrative instance or case. a typical example of bureaucratic waste sample implies a part or unit taken at random from a larger whole and so presumed to be typical of its qualities. show us a sample of your work specimen applies to any example or sample whether representative or merely existent and available. one of the finest specimens of the jeweler's art

model, example, pattern, exemplar, ideal mean someone or something set before one for guidance or imitation. model applies to something taken or proposed as worthy of imitation. a decor that is a model of good taste example applies to a person to be imitated or in some contexts on no account to be imitated but to be regarded as a warning. children tend to follow the example of their parents pattern suggests a clear and detailed archetype or prototype. American industry set a pattern for others to follow exemplar suggests either a faultless example to be emulated or a perfect typification. cited Joan of Arc as the exemplar of courage ideal implies the best possible exemplification either in reality or in conception. never found a job that matched his ideal

Examples of example in a Sentence


He set a good example for the rest of us. She gave several examples to show that the program is effective. We've chosen three examples of contemporary architecture for closer study. a classic example of a Persian rug a fine example of the artist's work The dictionary includes thousands of examples.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But Christopher Meekins, a deputy assistant secretary at Health and Human Services, pointed to troubling examples the agency found during background checks under the longer process in the under 5 age group. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Trump administration outlines plan to reunify remaining 2,500 separated children," 14 July 2018 But the figure also serves as the latest - and one of the largest - examples of how celebrities can leverage their fame to take on another job title: business mogul. Rachel Siegel, chicagotribune.com, "Kylie Jenner is on track to become the youngest self-made billionaire. Ever.," 14 July 2018 Cindy Sherman’s now famous 1983 fashion series originated as an advertising assignment for Benson, who had a long-standing collaboration with Peter Hujar, examples of which were recently exhibited at the Morgan Library. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Dianne Benson, A Maverick Retailer in 1980s New York, Talks Fashion, Art, and Collaborators Like David Wojnarowicz and Cindy Sherman," 13 July 2018 The head of the US rescue contingent, Derek Anderson, described the soccer team's survival and rescue as the ultimate example of teamwork. Eddie Pells, The Christian Science Monitor, "Bond between players and coach may have saved Thai boy's lives," 13 July 2018 In two prominent recent examples, civilians have, as in Oklahoma City, successfully intervened in mass shootings. Frances Stead Sellers, Washington Post, "Two Oklahoma citizens killed an active shooter, and it's not as simple as it sounds," 13 July 2018 There’s a lot of folklore to buttress a triskaidekaphobe’s fear, and early examples date all the way back to the Bible. Emily Deciccio, Fox News, "Why is Friday the 13th so spooky?," 13 July 2018 While these examples may seem frivolous, meritocracy fatigue is anything but. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Donald Trump, Meghan Markle, and America’s enduring obsession with the British royals," 12 July 2018 There arguably is no better example than guard Derrick Walton Jr., who spent last season with the Heat on a two-way contract after his 2017 summer-league play was limited to the Orlando Magic. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Scouting for free agents remains ongoing for Heat," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'example.' 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 example


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for example


Middle English, from Anglo-French essample, example, from Latin exemplum, from eximere to take out, from ex- + emere to take — more at redeem

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Statistics for example

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for example

The first known use of example was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for example



English Language Learners Definition of example

: a person or way of behaving that is seen as a model that should be followed

: someone or something that is mentioned to help explain what you are saying or to show that a general statement is true

: something or someone chosen from a group in order to show what the whole group is like


ex·am·ple | \ig-ˈzam-pəl \

Kids Definition of example

1 : something to be imitated : model Try to set a good example.

2 : a sample of something taken to show what the whole is like : instance

3 : a problem to be solved to show how a rule works an example in arithmetic

4 : something that is a warning to others Let his punishment be an example to you.

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Comments on example

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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