ex·​em·​pla·​ry ig-ˈzem-plə-rē How to pronounce exemplary (audio)
: deserving imitation : commendable
his courage was exemplary
also : deserving imitation because of excellence
they serve exemplary pastries G. V. Higgins
: serving as a pattern
: serving as an example, instance, or illustration
this story is exemplary of her style
: serving as a warning : monitory
given an exemplary punishment
exemplarily adverb
exemplariness noun
exemplarity noun

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An Exemplary Etymology

Exemplary (and its close relatives example and exemplify) derives from the Latin noun exemplum ("example"). When exemplary describes something as "excellent," 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
Recent Examples on the Web Anderson Cooper asked in a CNN special this May, and the answers were exemplary of how the media had come to frame the city. Jesse Barron, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 Hecht’s life was exemplary of his literary generation. Heather Wilhelm, National Review, 9 Nov. 2023 As one of our favorite Southern doughnut chains, Krispy Kreme is exemplary at toasting each and every holiday with some festive cheer, from Mother’s Day minis to pillowy pastries taken directly from the North Pole to free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day. Abigail Wilt, Southern Living, 30 Oct. 2023 But even here, where sustainability efforts are exemplary, the ecosystem is changing. Jessica Vincent, Vogue, 25 Oct. 2023 The historic distinction is the highest order of chivalry in Spain, awarded to recognize exemplary service to the nation, and is comprised of five degrees: Collar, Grand Cross, Commendation of Number, Commendation and Cross. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 31 Oct. 2023 The president made his comments to reporters about the speed of aid flowing into Gaza after presenting science and technology awards to several Americans for exemplary achievements that have had a positive impact on the United States. Aamer Madhani, Fortune, 24 Oct. 2023 The judge ruled that Jones is not shielded from paying more than $4.4 million in compensatory and exemplary damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of six-year-old victim Jesse Lewis, who won their civil jury trial against Jones and his company last summer. Lauren Del Valle, CNN, 20 Oct. 2023 Advertisement McVay has recognized Evans several times for his exemplary work on the scout team, offensive lineman Rob Havenstein said. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


see exemplar

First Known Use

circa 1507, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of exemplary was circa 1507


Dictionary Entries Near exemplary

Cite this Entry

“Exemplary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exemplary. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


ex·​em·​pla·​ry ig-ˈzem-plə-rē How to pronounce exemplary (audio)
: deserving to be imitated : commendable
exemplary behavior
exemplarily adverb

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