ex·​em·​pla·​ry | \ig-ˈzem-plə-rē \

Definition of exemplary 

1a : deserving imitation : commendable his courage was exemplary also : deserving imitation because of excellence they serve exemplary pastries — G. V. Higgins

b : serving as a pattern

2 : serving as an example, instance, or illustration this story is exemplary of her style

3 : serving as a warning : monitory given an exemplary punishment

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Other Words from exemplary

exemplarily \ ˌeg-​ˌzem-​ˈpler-​ə-​lē \ adverb
exemplariness \ ig-​ˈzem-​plə-​rē-​nəs \ noun
exemplarity \ ˌeg-​ˌzem-​ˈpler-​ə-​tē \ noun

An Exemplary Etymology

Since the 1500s, exemplary has been used in English for things deserving imitation. The word (and its close relatives example and exemplify) derives from the Latin noun exemplum, which means "example." Usage commentators have sometimes warned against using exemplary as if it were simply a synonym of excellent, but clear-cut instances of such usage are hard to come by. When exemplary describes something excellent, as it often does, it almost always carries the further suggestion that the thing described is worthy of imitation.

Examples of exemplary in a Sentence

Each cantina has its own style, but almost all of them share several key traits: uniformed waiters offering exemplary service, a trio of musicians strolling from table to table playing songs on request, lots of men playing dominoes, plenty of good tequila and cold beer, and tasty home-cooked botanas (snacks) served free with each round of drinks. — Chris Humphrey, National Geographic Traveler, September 2008 A few Hollywood couples stayed hitched—Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, 50 years and counting—but such exemplary marriages had less entertainment value than the connubial career of, say, Elizabeth Taylor, eight times wed and divorced, including two volatile turns with Richard Burton. — Richard Corliss, Time, 28 Jan. 2008 Among the most important factors that distinguished the best Civil War regiments from the mediocre ones were the quality and exemplary courage of their officers. — James M. McPherson, New York Review of Books, 6 Oct. 2005 as a hospital volunteer you have given exemplary service to your community armies have traditionally used public execution as an exemplary punishment for the crime of desertion
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Recent Examples on the Web

The family would also like to express gratitude to Vitas Hospice Care, especially Mary and Wanda, for loving and exemplary care in Connie’s final year of life. Orlando Sentinel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Deaths in Central Florida: 6/24," 24 June 2018 Since 9/11, nearly 110,000 immigrants have gained citizenship through military service, the Defense Department reports, some winning honors for exemplary service. Renae Reints, Fortune, "The U.S. Army Is Abruptly Discharging Immigrant Enlistees Previously Headed Toward Citizenship, Lawyers Say," 6 July 2018 The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character. Scott Springer, Cincinnati.com, "Indian Hill's Anna Podojil named Ohio Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year," 21 June 2018 More: Sacred Heart's Cassie Amshoff named Courier Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year The Gatorade award recognizes athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Louisville Courier Journal, The Courier-Journal, "Sacred Heart's Amshoff named Gatorade Kentucky Soccer Player of Year," 18 June 2018 Between these extremes is the exemplary course of action demonstrated by another one of my patients, also a professor in her mid-60s. Kirk R. Daffner, Washington Post, "Reflections of a dementia specialist: I want to stop working before I embarrass myself," 15 Apr. 2018 The outside hitter was named the Gatorade Wisconsin Volleyball Player of the Year, an award recognizing athletic excellence and high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Lake Country Lutheran's Andersen named Gatorade Player of the Year in girls volleyball," 16 Jan. 2018 The award is considered the highest honor bestowed to an exemplary member. Ruth Sowby Rands, latimes.com, "On the Town: College organization awards student scholarships," 3 July 2018 Prior to its acquisition by Amazon, organic grocer Whole Foods Market reveled in its image as an exemplary workplace where no executive was allowed to earn more than 19 times the salary of the average worker's salary. Motley Fool Staff, USA TODAY, "20 chains that pay more than minimum wage," 24 Mar. 2018

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

circa 1507, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for exemplary

see exemplar

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Statistics for exemplary

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exemplary

The first known use of exemplary was circa 1507

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More Definitions for exemplary



English Language Learners Definition of exemplary

: extremely good and deserving to be admired and copied

: serving as an example of something

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