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

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 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

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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Statistics for exponent

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exponent

The first known use of exponent was in 1734

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More Definitions for exponent



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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