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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

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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

Example Sentences

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
The Thursday panic was the latest example of violence at community parades. Marlene Lenthang, NBC News, 5 Aug. 2022 This car, chassis no. 059, was the only example to roll off the line with the feature. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 5 Aug. 2022 The iPhone 13 series is the best example of all those battery enhancements. Chris Smith, BGR, 4 Aug. 2022 In the latest example, hackers reportedly stole cryptocurrency valued at $190 million from cryptocurrency bridge provider Nomad, according to blockchain security and data analytics company Peckshield. Jennifer Korn, CNN, 3 Aug. 2022 And this slightly textured yet still classic-looking shirt is the ideal example of why that’s the case. Bernd Fischer, Men's Health, 2 Aug. 2022 Your Capitol Theatre residencies with Phil Lesh and a rotating roster of backing musicians might be the best example of that. Jonathan Cohen, SPIN, 2 Aug. 2022 Danni turns out to be the perfect example of a performative activist, especially in the social media era. Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug. 2022 These orders are the latest example of the Biden administration circumventing Congress to reach policy goals. Erin Norman, National Review, 1 Aug. 2022 See More

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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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 17 Aug. 2022.

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Kids Definition


ex·​am·​ple ig-ˈzam-pəl How to pronounce example (audio)
: something to be imitated : model
Try to set a good example.
: a sample of something taken to show what the whole is like : instance
: a problem to be solved to show how a rule works
an example in arithmetic
: something that is a warning to others
Let his punishment be an example to you.

More from Merriam-Webster on example

Last Updated: 10 Aug 2022

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