noun ex·am·ple \ ig-ˈzam-pəl \
|Updated on: 17 Jul 2018

Definition of example

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 play \fər-ig-ˈzam-pəl, frig-\
: as an example
  • there are many sources of air pollution; exhaust fumes, for example

Examples of example in a Sentence

  1. He set a good example for the rest of us.

  2. She gave several examples to show that the program is effective.

  3. We've chosen three examples of contemporary architecture for closer study.

  4. a classic example of a Persian rug

  5. a fine example of the artist's work

  6. The dictionary includes thousands of examples.

Recent Examples of example from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of example

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

Synonym Discussion of 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




Definition of example

exampled; exampling play \ig-ˈzam-p(ə-)liŋ\
1 : to serve as an example of
2 archaic : to be or set an example to

First Known Use of example

14th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

EXAMPLE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of example for English Language Learners

  • : 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

EXAMPLE Defined for Kids


noun ex·am·ple \ ig-ˈzam-pəl \

Definition of example for Students

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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