ex·​po·​nent | \ ik-ˈspō-nənt How to pronounce exponent (audio) , ˈek-ˌspō- How to pronounce exponent (audio) \

Definition of exponent

1 : a symbol written above and to the right of a mathematical expression to indicate the operation of raising to a power
2a : one that expounds or interprets
b : one that champions, practices, or exemplifies

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Did You Know?

You probably won't be surprised to learn that "exponent" shares an ancestor with "proponent" - and indeed, the Latin ponere ("to put") is at the root of both terms. "Exponent" descends from "exponere" ("to explain" or "to set forth"), which joins "ponere" with "ex-" ("out"). "Proponent" traces to "proponere" ("to display" or "to declare"), from "ponere" and "pro-" ("before"). "Proponent" can describe someone who offers a proposal (it's related to "propose," which also ultimately comes from "proponere"), but today it usually means "one who argues in favor of something." "Exponent" can also refer to someone who is an advocate, but it tends to refer especially to someone who stands out as a shining representative of something, and in addition it has retained its earlier meaning of "one who expounds."

Examples of exponent in a Sentence

She has become one of America's foremost exponents of the romantic style in interior design. The exponent 3 in 103 indicates 10 x 10 x 10.

Recent Examples on the Web

As the movement gained a name, postmodernism, Mr. Tigerman became one of its leading exponents and practitioners. Fred A. Bernstein, New York Times, "Stanley Tigerman, Architect of Puckish Postmodernism, Dies at 88," 4 June 2019 The company has long been America’s foremost exponent of what has been called the Holy Trinity of classical ballet: Petipa the Father, Balanchine the Son, Ashton the Holy Ghost. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "The Changing Shape of American Ballet Theater," 5 July 2018 Euroskepticism is failing because its leading exponents view Europe’s problems solely in distributional terms—a question of how best to divvy up a static economic pie. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "EU Politicians Are the Worst, Except All the Others," 20 Dec. 2018 America owed it to itself to embrace both strengths and ideals in decades of congressional service, ultimately as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John was an exponent of an America strong enough to its purpose. Elizabeth Angell, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Henry Kissinger's Eulogy for John McCain," 1 Sep. 2018 The silhouette was far broader than that of the contemporary consensus, and almost every look featured a Lanvin sneaker, a category for which Ossendrijver became a pioneering exponent in luxury. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "He Put the Man in Lanvin: Saluting Lucas Ossendrijver’s Tenure at the French Label," 15 Nov. 2018 Bombino — is the leading exponent of the blues and rock simpatico trance music sound of the Tuareg people of Northern Africa. Philly.com, "University City Dining Days, Hispanic Fiesta at Penn's Landing, Movie night at Penn Treaty Park, and other great events in Philadelphia, July 6-13," 5 July 2018 Before long the fuzz tone had become a hallmark of ’60s guitar rock, especially among its more psychedelic exponents, like the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream. New York Times, "Glenn Snoddy, 96, Accidental Inventor of the Fuzz Tone, Dies," 25 May 2018 Nearly all the best exponents of the Greek Epirotic music, on shellac or in the flesh, are not considered Greek Epirotes by the Greek Epirotes themselves. Evan Eisenberg, WSJ, "‘Lament From Epirus’ Review: Ode on a Grecian Yearn," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exponent.' 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 exponent

1734, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for exponent

Latin exponent-, exponens, present participle of exponere — more at expose

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Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for exponent

The first known use of exponent was in 1734

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English Language Learners Definition of exponent

: someone who supports a particular cause, belief, etc.
: someone who is known for a particular method, style, etc.
mathematics : a symbol that is written above and to the right of a number to show how many times the number is to be multiplied by itself


ex·​po·​nent | \ ik-ˈspō-nənt How to pronounce exponent (audio) \

Kids Definition of exponent

: a numeral written above and to the right of a number to show how many times the number is to be used as a factor The exponent 3 in 103 indicates 10 × 10 × 10.

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