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ex·​am·​ple ig-ˈzam-pəl How to pronounce example (audio)
: one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated
a good example
: a punishment inflicted on someone as a warning to others
also : an individual so punished
: one that is representative of all of a group or type
: a parallel or closely similar case especially when serving as a precedent or model
: 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


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exampled; exampling ig-ˈzam-p(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce example (audio)

transitive verb

: to serve as an example of
archaic : to be or set an example to
for example \ fər-​ig-​ˈzam-​pəl How to pronounce example (audio) , frig-​ \
: as an example
there are many sources of air pollution; exhaust fumes, for example
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

Noun 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a law that governs public companies' financial accounting and reporting. Jeffrey Wheatman, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Instacart, for example, closed at less than $30 per share on Thursday, down 11% from its public debut in September. Jessica Mathews, Fortune, 23 Feb. 2024 For example, a story of the mythical beast Nianshou was commonly told around the new year, believing the creature would arrive to eat livestock and crops and cause massive destruction. Marina Johnson, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Feb. 2024 For example, travel pillows are U-shaped to enable comfortable sleep while seated. Brianna Kamienski, The Arizona Republic, 23 Feb. 2024 Take, for example, his account of a recent visit to Cave Hill Cemetery, where the father of KFC is buried. Amanda Hancock, The Courier-Journal, 23 Feb. 2024 For example, the Karuk Tribe recently got 1,200 acres returned to them to be put into trust, or in English, reservation land was created for them. Dana Taylor, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 Roaring '20s, Masquerade Ball, and Black and White, for example. Stefanie Waldek, Travel + Leisure, 23 Feb. 2024 For example, the 2% discount period was extended through Nov. 30, 2023, in Northern Kentucky's Campbell County this year. Grace Tucker, The Enquirer, 23 Feb. 2024
How those perceptions shift over time are exampled by the Chabad of Poway synagogue shootings of April 27, 2019 resulting in the death of a beloved congregant and attempts at other congregants’ lives. Doris Bittar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Aug. 2023 That’s a big reason why Reddit co-founder Ohanian, Angel City’s lead investor, is so bullish on the sport — though he, too, was primarily drawn by the opportunity and example the NWSL offered for his daughter, Alexis Olympia. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2023 And three, which was probably more important than the first two, was to be able to example to our donors the impact that their money has across the diverse ecosystem of the arts in Dallas, supported by TACA. Dallas News, 4 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History



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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near example

Cite this Entry

“Example.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/example. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: one that serves as a pattern to be followed or not followed
set a good example
a bad example
: punishment given to someone as a warning to others
: the person so punished
we'll make an example of you
: one of a group or collection that shows what the whole is like : sample
a fine example of the silversmith's art
: a problem to be solved to show how a rule works
examples in arithmetic

More from Merriam-Webster on example

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