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

Peffers, the program’s head, describes Busch as an exemplary student who has quickly risen to the top of his class. Jeffrey Selingo, The Atlantic, "The False Promises of Worker Retraining," 8 Jan. 2018 Just as exemplary has been the empathy shown for their plight as well as the hope expressed for their rescue. The Christian Science Monitor, "Thai cave rescue: a metaphor on climate adaptation," 9 July 2018 The mile-long loop through that collection of giants felt hallowed, exemplary of Steinbeck’s cathedral hush. Robert Earle Howells, SFChronicle.com, "Should we hide the locations of Earth’s greatest trees?," 3 July 2018 The decision recognizes Williams’s exemplary record on grass and, unlike the recent French Open, doesn’t excessively penalize her for a 13-month maternity leave. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "SCOTUS Vacancy, Becky Hammon, Google's Diane Greene: Broadsheet June 28," 28 June 2018 But the final spark of the evening comes from Genevieve Gergis’s exemplary desserts. Garrett Snyder, Los Angeles Magazine, "Restaurant Review: Ori Menashe’s Bavel Pushes Mideast Cuisine to New Heights," 21 June 2018 Wander along its many food streets (Wenshufang, Wide and Narrow Alley, Jinli) or grab a seat at exemplary restaurants like Ma Wang Zi and vegetarian-friendly Mi Xun Teahouse. Christina Liao, Vogue, "All the Szechuan Food You Should Try in Chengdu, China," 5 June 2018 Sonnier came of age when local chefs' fortunes hinged on their ability to produce an exemplary gumbo. Brett Anderson, NOLA.com, "Gabrielle, the New Orleans restaurant that makes time stand still, explained," 8 May 2018 The trophy and $2,500 scholarship are awarded annually to one player who has displayed exemplary sportsmanship and academic achievement. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "Naperville People in the News," 20 Apr. 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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Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for exemplary

The first known use of exemplary was circa 1507

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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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Comments on exemplary

What made you want to look up exemplary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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