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orig·​i·​nal ə-ˈri-jə-nᵊl How to pronounce original (audio)
: of, relating to, or constituting an origin or beginning : initial
the original part of the house
: not secondary, derivative, or imitative
an original composition
: being the first instance or source from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is or can be made
: independent and creative in thought or action : inventive
an original artist


2 of 2


: that from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is made
gave her a copy of the report and kept the original
: a work composed firsthand
This painting is a Van Gogh original.
: a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity
an original among popular pianists, combining jazz and romantic techniques in an unusually effective mannerDouglas Watt
: a unique or eccentric person
Among other comedians he's an original.
archaic : the source or cause from which something arises
specifically : originator
Choose the Right Synonym for original

new, novel, original, fresh mean having recently come into existence or use.

new may apply to what is freshly made and unused

new brick

or has not been known before

new designs

or not experienced before.

starts the new job

novel applies to what is not only new but strange or unprecedented.

a novel approach to the problem

original applies to what is the first of its kind to exist.

a man without one original idea

fresh applies to what has not lost its qualities of newness such as liveliness, energy, brightness.

a fresh start

Examples of original in a Sentence

Adjective Their original idea was to fix their old car, but they decided to buy a new one instead. The word's original meaning was very different from its current meaning. I gave her a copy and kept the original document myself. The book has been translated into English from the original Spanish. The concept is very original. The car has a highly original design. She has a very original and creative mind. He is admired as an original American composer. Noun I gave her a copy of the report and kept the original. This isn't a reprint, it's an original. Compared to other actresses of her generation, she is a true original. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
The Education Department notes that the benefit is based upon the original principal balance of all federal loans borrowed as a student to attend school, not what a borrower currently owes or the amount of an individual loan. Detroit Free Press, 23 Feb. 2024 Sky has continued to double down on original content under Comcast’s ownership. Georg Szalai, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Feb. 2024 Neil Hannon of band the Divine Comedy wrote the original songs for the film. Todd Spangler, Variety, 23 Feb. 2024 Almost 14 years after The Pacific, and 23 years after award-wining series Band of Brothers, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, once again teamed up for their new Apple TV original WWII drama series, Masters of the Air. Maëlle Beauget-Uhl, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Harlow, Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins were the original hosts. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 23 Feb. 2024 Previously this year, the single won Grammy Awards for song of the year and best song written for visual media, and the Golden Globe for best original song. Gary Trust, Billboard, 23 Feb. 2024 The original title, Cooke said, was Drive-Away Dykes, which purposefully suggests the second half of a Forty-Deuce grindhouse double bill. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 23 Feb. 2024 Dan Ross, a local criminal defense attorney, told The Star Tuesday that he’d been told one of the guns fired at the parade had an automatic switch attached to it, meaning it had been converted from its original design to a more fully automatic weapon. David Hudnall, Kansas City Star, 23 Feb. 2024
The original was set in 1962 and based on attempts to assassinate French president Charles de Gaulle. Georg Szalai, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Feb. 2024 That’s why fans were so excited to see a live-action adaptation more true to the original. Olivia McCormack, Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2024 Coming up Thursday, Feb 29, is the Scott Cooper Trio, playing a mix of Beatles, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, originals and more. Debby Rice, The Mercury News, 20 Feb. 2024 The release of Lopez’s album and cinematic original will be followed by the documentary The Greatest Love Story Never Told, on Feb. 27. Charisma Madarang, Rolling Stone, 17 Feb. 2024 Dipping into the Lara’s Home tutorial in the first Tomb Raider quickly confirms that due process, and genuine care, has been taken to preserve the originals. Matt Gardner, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 More challenging was determining whether auctioneers, gallery owners, buyers and even the painters-for-hire themselves had participated knowingly in the scam or simply been paid to paint without knowing the works were being advertised as Morrisseau originals. Jordan Michael Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Feb. 2024 For dessert, taste a St. Louis original: Gooey butter cake. Jenna Anderson, Sunset Magazine, 12 Feb. 2024 The original is currently in its fifth week on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, where’s its sitting at No. 18. Katie Bain, Billboard, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'original.' 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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of original was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near original

Cite this Entry

“Original.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/original. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
orig·​i·​nal ə-ˈrij-ən-ᵊl How to pronounce original (audio)
: something from which a copy or translation is made


2 of 2 adjective
: relating to or being the origin or beginning : first, earliest
the original part of an old house
original owners
: not copied or imitated from something else
original paintings
an original idea
: being an original
: able to think up new things : inventive
an original artist

Legal Definition


: that from which a copy or reproduction is made
both parties signed the original
compare duplicate
: a work composed firsthand as the product of an author's creativity

Note: A work must be an original in order to obtain a copyright.

original adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on original

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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