foun·​tain·​head | \ˈfau̇n-tᵊn-ˌhed \

Definition of fountainhead 

1 : a spring that is the source of a stream

2 : principal source : origin

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Did You Know?

When it first entered English in the late 1500s, fountainhead was used only in a literal sense-to refer to the source of a stream. By the early 1600s, 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

To be sure, most of them were in Europe, the fountainhead of doubt. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Among the Trump Doubters," 5 Sep. 2018 Terry is really the fountainhead there -- Steve Reich is an offshoot, and often a flagrant copier in the early days. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "Jon Hassell at 81: Visionary Composer-Trumpeter Reflects on a Half Century of Music on His Own Terms," 28 June 2018 In this framework, guns are accessories to infectious violence rather than fountainheads. Melinda Wenner Moyer, Scientific American, "More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows," 1 Oct. 2017 The discovery upon autopsy that Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots tight end who killed himself in his jail cell, had the symptoms of CTE is going to be more than simply a fountainhead of bad red hot sportz takez. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "So I Called Trump a Dotard First. I Won't Be Suing Kim Jong-un.," 22 Sep. 2017 Both are cities that work, each fountainheads of the great industrial revolution. Chris Jones,, "Understanding the agonies of Manchester, our fellow Second City," 24 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fountainhead.' 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 fountainhead

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for fountainhead

The first known use of fountainhead was in 1585

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More Definitions for fountainhead



English Language Learners Definition of fountainhead

: the origin or source of something

More from Merriam-Webster on fountainhead

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fountainhead

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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