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

At least for the ever-exemplary maternity style of Kate Middleton, who today marked her final public engagement before giving birth to her third child (her due date is set for April 23). Maria Ward, Vogue, "Kate Middleton Makes Her Last Public Appearance Before Giving Birth—And She's Still Wearing Heels," 22 Mar. 2018 His leadership as mayor of Shaker Heights has been exemplary and visionary. Karen Farkas, cleveland.com, "Cuyahoga County Council slams proposals to offer perks to lure and keep top employees," 20 Feb. 2018 He was recognized with a good conduct medal for 25 years of exemplary conduct in 2010, according to the paper. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "Father, son sheriff’s deputies jailed in Florida for separate murder, attempted sexual assault cases," 21 July 2018 And all this new technology is exemplary of a greater trend: better photos through software. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "Camera Tricks: How the Dazzling iPhone XS and XR Photos Features Work," 13 Sep. 2018 Stoke-on-Trent is exemplary of many regions that voted heavily in favor of Brexit. Donato Paolo Mancini, WSJ, "‘Extremely Weak’: A Pro-Brexit Bastion Takes Dim View of May’s Deal," 20 Nov. 2018 Microsoft made the announcement Friday at the IFA show in Berlin, Germany, where the company also continued its tradition of highlighting exemplary PC hardware from its hardware partners. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "The next Windows 10 has a name and a date: the October 2018 Update, due this fall," 31 Aug. 2018 Even amid his bomb-throwing comments about British politics in a tabloid newspaper interview, there was one subject President Donald Trump treated with exemplary graciousness: the queen. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "Trump on Queen Elizabeth II: She has 'a great and beautiful grace about her'," 13 July 2018 Santino’s supporters had urged the Supreme Court to give Santino a chance to build upon her exemplary conduct as a judge. Marc Freeman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Florida Supreme Court orders judge removed over campaign misconduct," 2 July 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

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


to gather or build up little by little

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