ex·po·nent | \ik-ˈspō-nənt, ˈek-ˌspō- \

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

But on a macro level, the NBA is an environment largely shaped by externalities, an aggregate sum of hundreds of cases of individual self-interest and their exponents. David Murphy, Philly.com, "How LeBron James' decision may change Sixers' Star Hunt approach | David Murphy," 2 July 2018 But the government says there will be international election monitors — from China, Myanmar and Singapore, none of which are known as vigorous exponents of pluralist democracy. Julia Wallace, New York Times, "‘Fireflies’ and ‘Ghosts’ in Cambodia Prop Up Facade of Real Election," 11 July 2018 Like Mr Cocker, who cites 19th-century radicals such as William Hazlitt and William Cobbett, its exponents tend to be left-leaning. The Economist, "Brexit is reverberating in British literature," 5 July 2018 The dominant Brazilian team of the late '50s and early '60's; the elan and flair of Les Bleus in France '98, and Spain's victorious tiki-taka exponents. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 4 Days to Go - When Oranje Ditched Total Football in 2010 to Near-Perfection," 10 June 2018 Forget the Salonen stereotype as a somewhat cool exponent of orchestral late Romanticism. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Esa-Pekka Salonen wraps up CSO residency with an intense 'Transfigured Night'," 25 May 2018 In another recent paper in Chaos, the Maryland team reported that their reservoir computer could successfully learn the values of these characterizing exponents from data about a system’s evolution. Natalie Wolchover, WIRED, "Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos," 21 Apr. 2018 Mark Lilla, author of The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics, is another prominent exponent of this view. Eric Schickler, Vox, "Debunking the myth that “identity politics” is bad for the Democratic Party," 21 Apr. 2018 The Taiwanese company pioneered this model and is its dominant exponent. The Economist, "TSMC is about to become the world’s most advanced chipmaker," 5 Apr. 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

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \

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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