ex·​em·​pla·​ry | \ ig-ˈzem-plə-rē How to pronounce exemplary (audio) \

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 How to pronounce exemplarily (audio) \ adverb
exemplariness \ ig-​ˈzem-​plə-​rē-​nəs How to pronounce exemplariness (audio) \ noun
exemplarity \ ˌeg-​ˌzem-​ˈpler-​ə-​tē How to pronounce exemplarity (audio) \ 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 Not only is the cast exemplary, but Catherine Cornell, the scenic designer, effortlessly puts you in an all-but-surreal space where each set piece exists solely to frame the action and spin a web of dread. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "‘Mac Beth’ Review: When Teenage Angst Turns Bloody," 6 Feb. 2020 His 2019 statistical line -- 286 completions in 428 attempts for 3.471 yards, 32 TDs, 6 interceptions -- is exemplary. oregonlive, "Oregon QB Justin Herbert is getting the star treatment at the Senior Bowl: Issues & Answers," 21 Jan. 2020 Wilfredo Acevedo has never been found to have made a single false statement or falsely arrested anyone and touted his exemplary record of service. Alec Snyder, CNN, "Detective involved in Barnard student Tessa Majors case faces allegations he falsified evidence in other cases," 23 Dec. 2019 Bryant belongs in Chicago, represents the Cubs in exemplary fashion and forms the sturdy foundation every organization seeks. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Trading Kris Bryant would be a huge mistake for the Cubs," 10 Dec. 2019 Amy argues that her son deserves the benefit of the doubt, pointing to his kind character and exemplary school record. J.t-j., The Economist, "“Luce” probes race and privilege in America," 12 Nov. 2019 Gregory had an exemplary record at work, according to the suit, and the juvenile record was the sole reason for her disqualification. BostonGlobe.com, "New federal regulations require more stringent background checks of day-care workers, and permanently bar people convicted of certain offenses from working with young children.," 22 Oct. 2019 Whittle has been an exemplary public servant, even receiving the honor of Department of Mental Health Employee of the Year in 2009. Max Londberg, kansascity, "Man sentenced to 80 years for KC burglary walks free on Greitens' final day," 3 June 2018 The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence along with high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated both on and off the court. Dennis Victory, al, "Mountain Brook’s Grace Carr named Gatorade state volleyball Player of the Year," 13 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for exemplary

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The first known use of exemplary was circa 1507

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Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Exemplary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exemplary. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for exemplary


How to pronounce exemplary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of exemplary

: extremely good and deserving to be admired and copied
formal : serving as an example of something

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