fountainhead

noun

foun·​tain·​head ˈfau̇n-tᵊn-ˌhed How to pronounce fountainhead (audio)
1
: a spring that is the source of a stream
2
: principal source : origin

Did you know?

When it first entered English in the late 16th century, fountainhead was used only in a literal sense—to refer to the source of a stream. By the 17th century, however, it was already beginning to be used figuratively in reference to any original or primary source. In his 1854 work Walden, Henry David Thoreau used the word in its figurative sense, while paying full homage to its literal meaning as well: "Morning air! If men will not drink of this at the fountainhead of the day, why, then, we must even bottle up some and sell it in the shops, for the benefit of those who have lost their subscription ticket to morning time in this world."

Examples of fountainhead in a Sentence

the fountainhead of the faith historically, California has served as the fountainhead of that eclectic group of self-actualization movements known as the New Age
Recent Examples on the Web The patriarch, the fountainhead, is Eli McCullough, born the same day that Texas became a state, a hard man forged through fire. Chris Vognar, Chron, 28 May 2023 Stoic happiness, like Stoic everything else, makes internal calm its fountainhead. Tom Bissell, Harper’s Magazine , 10 Apr. 2023 Because the Court implied that its own authority to interpret the Constitution is superior to that of the other branches, the case is the fountainhead of judicial supremacy. Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker, 5 Jan. 2023 The fountainhead of American bohemia, Greenwich Village has always departed from the straight and narrow. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 21 Nov. 2022 In Picasso’s vision, Africa had become a fountainhead of the art of the modern world. David Frum, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2022 What fountainhead of legal invention did that spring from? The Editorial Board, WSJ, 28 Aug. 2022 The fountainhead of the culture remains Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles, a place that is almost treated like a shrine for SoCal lowrider clubs. Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2021 The fountainhead for Chatwin’s and Herzog’s engrossing stories, of course, was their travels. Peter Gwin, National Geographic, 26 Aug. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fountainhead.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fountainhead was in 1585

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Cite this Entry

“Fountainhead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fountainhead. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

fountainhead

noun
foun·​tain·​head ˈfau̇nt-ᵊn-ˌhed How to pronounce fountainhead (audio)
1
: a spring that is the source of a stream
2
: an original or primary source : origin
the fountainhead of our liberties
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