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 exemplary (audio) \ adverb
exemplariness \ ig-​ˈzem-​plə-​rē-​nəs How to pronounce exemplary (audio) \ noun
exemplarity \ ˌeg-​ˌzem-​ˈpler-​ə-​tē How to pronounce exemplary (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 That’s why the countries that have achieved exemplary success in Covid containment, such as Taiwan, have been able to test, track, and vaccinate via a single-payer model of universal health coverage. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, "The Pandemic Planners Were Ready. No One Listened.," 11 May 2021 Durham University archaeologist Paul Pettitt, an expert in Paleolithic funerary practices not involved with the research, called the study an exemplary exercise in modern forensic excavation and analysis. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Discover Oldest Known Human Grave in Africa," 5 May 2021 Another exemplary target—what the seven different hepatitis C virus (HCV) drugs used in this study inhibit—are two proteases, enzymes that break down proteins into pieces a virus can use to copy itself. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, "New Antiviral Drug Cocktail Could Help India Control Brutal Covid-19 Surge," 5 May 2021 Despite the great hardware and exemplary sales, the iPhone 12 lacks one feature that’s already considered mainstream on Android, a high refresh rate screen. Chris Smith, BGR, "The iPhone 13 feature fans want most is coming – thanks to Samsung," 4 May 2021 Young was recognized for his years of exceptional and exemplary service in support of IFSR International activities, Scouting and guidance of International Service. Sam Boyer, cleveland, "This time it wasn’t the wind that made trees fly out: Whit & Whimsey," 30 Apr. 2021 Here’s hoping Ben and Erin continue to share their light, and that the world continuously gets a peek at what an exemplary husband and father Ben is. Rebecca Norris, Country Living, "'Home Town' Fans Can't Get Over the Love Note Ben Napier Wrote to Erin After the Season Finale," 29 Apr. 2021 Marlee Matlin, in presenting the documentary awards (using A.S.L.), cited the cell-phone video that Darnella Frazier recorded of the murder of George Floyd as exemplary documentary filmmaking. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "A Restrained but Revitalized 2021 Oscars Ceremony," 26 Apr. 2021 Candidates can be nominated for the three categories — future leader, unsung hero and exemplary regional leadership — until 11:59 p.m. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, "2021 Shining Light Awards now accepting nominations," 25 Apr. 2021

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of exemplary was circa 1507

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Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Exemplary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exemplary. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for exemplary



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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