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 Another surprise stemmed from a result first proved by Euler, showing that all the prime bases of an OPN are raised to an even power except for one — called the Euler power — which has an odd exponent. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Open a New Front on an Ancient Number Problem," 10 Sep. 2020 Kamala Harris, who may soon be president-regent in the administration of a visibly deteriorating Joe Biden, has been a talented exponent of this identity-first politics. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "The Dangerous Consequences of Putting Race First," 17 Aug. 2020 Thomas Jefferson, the tribune of classical liberalism, was equally an exponent of classical republicanism, with its emphasis on the obligation of citizens to participate in the political life of their community and attend to its collective needs. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Covid-19 and the limits of individual liberty," 13 Aug. 2020 First, and most importantly, he was viewed as leading exponent of twentieth-century Caribbean literature (whether written in English, French, Dutch, or Spanish). Caryl Phillips, The New York Review of Books, "Walcott in New York," 29 July 2020 And certainly human rights are dead in the words and actions of our president, the highest symbolic exponent of American values. Mark Danner, The New York Review of Books, "Moving Backward: Hypocrisy and Human Rights," 3 June 2020 And because Hollywood, though easy enough to dismiss as an exponent of impersonal brand-driven content, is also an honest-to-God repository of some of our most unshakable moviegoing dreams. Los Angeles Times, "The worst summer movie season ever? Nope. It’s time for an #UltimateSummerMovie Showdown," 28 Apr. 2020 Somewhat confusingly, ashift is actually the binary exponent which represents sector size—for example, setting ashift=9 means your sector size will be 2^9, or 512 bytes. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "ZFS 101—Understanding ZFS storage and performance," 8 May 2020 These artists were exponents of what would later be termed, in the West, an art of institutional critique. BostonGlobe.com, "NEW YORK — Huang Yong Ping, a conceptual artist and pioneering figure of China’s post-Cultural Revolution avant-garde, whose controversial work often depicted the world as a Darwinian power struggle, died on Oct. 19 at his home in Paris. He was 65.," 1 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for exponent

Time Traveler

The first known use of exponent was in 1734

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Last Updated

18 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Exponent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exponent. Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for exponent


How to pronounce exponent (audio) How to pronounce exponent (audio)

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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