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

Although cities like New York and London are considered the epicenters of punk rock, some of the movement’s powerful exponents were coming out of Austin, Texas. Tim Sommer, Billboard, "8 Queer Music Milestones You Might Not Know About," 13 Aug. 2019 For example, particles’ speeds at one instant can be rescaled, according to the scaling exponent, to give the distribution of speeds at any time later or earlier. Wired, "Fractal Patterns Offer Clues to the Universe's Origin," 11 Aug. 2019 To help students in the United States remember this order of operations, teachers drill the acronym PEMDAS into them: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. Steven Strogatz, New York Times, "The Math Equation That Tried to Stump the Internet," 2 Aug. 2019 The most sterling exponent of male dancing—a hallmark of the Danish ballet since Bournonville’s own performances set a tone of excellence and virtuosity in his time—is Jon Axel Fransson, who was promoted to RDB principal dancer this year. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘The Bournonville Legacy’ Review: Excerpts From a Ballet Master," 11 July 2019 Archer, one of the most exciting exponents of fast bowling of the game, has the potential to be one of the best England has ever had. James Masters, CNN, "How 'luck of the Irish' and 'Allah' inspired England's World Cup win," 15 July 2019 Over the Constitution is, again, very much of a piece with Jaffa’s career as an exponent of the philosophy of human rights. Mike Potemra, National Review, "Born on the Fourth of July," 4 July 2019 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

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

15 Sep 2019

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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 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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Comments on exponent

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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