orig·​i·​nal | \ ə-ˈri-jə-nᵊl How to pronounce original (audio) , -ˈrij-nəl\

Definition of original

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or constituting an origin or beginning : initial the original part of the house
2a : not secondary, derivative, or imitative an original composition
b : being the first instance or source from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is or can be made
3 : independent and creative in thought or action : inventive an original artist



Definition of original (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : that from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is made gave her a copy of the report and kept the original
b : a work composed firsthand This painting is a Van Gogh original.
2a : a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity an original among popular pianists, combining jazz and romantic techniques in an unusually effective manner— Douglas Watt
b : a unique or eccentric person Among other comedians he's an original.
3 archaic : the source or cause from which something arises specifically : originator

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Synonyms & Antonyms for original

Synonyms: Adjective

earliest, first, foremost, headmost, inaugural, initial, leadoff, maiden, pioneer, premier, virgin

Synonyms: Noun

archetype, prototype

Antonyms: Adjective

final, last, latest, latter, terminal, terminating, ultimate

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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


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.


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

On one hand, Swift's team should be able to exert some control over her original songs. Travis M. Andrews, chicagotribune.com, "Can Taylor Swift really re-record her entire music catalogue?," 23 Aug. 2019 The trailer also shows Tramp being taken away to a pound with Lady chasing behind the car where he's imprisoned; Tramp taking Lady to a hilltop vista; and a first look at the original film's famous pasta-kiss scene. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, "First 'Lady and the Tramp' Remake Trailer Debuts," 23 Aug. 2019 But the original film followed a surreal logic that was meaningful to its creators, and more than a little spooky. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Jacob’s Ladder,’ another remake nobody asked for, and more movies," 22 Aug. 2019 Entry forms must be completed, and original songs must be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo or SoundCloud, to the Rap Battle site by Sept. 2. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Milwaukee Public Library is hosting a rap battle, with the winner getting $1,000 in cash," 21 Aug. 2019 The film is an update to the original education film about substance abuse. Shiela Johnson, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "North Carroll: Manchester Valley Stampede; bluegrass event returns as Upperco Music Festival; ‘Heroin Still Kills’ showing," 19 Aug. 2019 Because of that everybody, like 100 people, always used to try to come to my house and make original songs. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, "Jack Antonoff, Sounwave, and Sam Dew on how their hometowns inspired new trio Red Hearse," 15 Aug. 2019 Once again, the story takes us to Bird Island, the setting of the original 2016 film and an avian paradise inhabited by flightless birds who, as in the game, travel via a slingshot that hurls them to their destination. Pat Padua, Twin Cities, "‘The Angry Birds Movie 2’ is better than you think. Wait, we’re serious.," 13 Aug. 2019 The 18-year-old from Rocky River climbed onto Klipsch Stage, greeted the lunchtime crowd and began playing a set of mostly original songs, sprinkled with a few covers from favorites like The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Lynn Ischay, cleveland.com, "Rocky River’s Olivia Martinez, 18, plays the Rock Hall before heading off to Berklee," 12 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Jasper Johns’s famous sculpture of two Ballantine Ale cans, cast in bronze and painted to match the originals, was very much on her mind. Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, "Vija Celmins’s Surface Matters," 26 Aug. 2019 The 12-track set also features pieces of suites dedicated to Fela Kuti, Howlin' Wolf...and Spinal Tap, along with four Leonhart originals. Gary Graff, Billboard, "Hear Trumpeter Michael Leonhart Reimagine Wu-Tang Clan's 'Da Mystery of Chessboxin''," 21 Aug. 2019 But as the streaming wars heat up, the studio will need to pad its collection with originals the way Netflix, Hulu, and other streamers do. Jim Mclauchlin, WIRED, "Storyboards, Marvel's Parts Unknown, Is Coming to Disney+," 15 July 2019 No more detachable Joy-Cons: The controllers are built into the plastic shell, meaning the rails to the sides of the screen on the original are no longer there to serve as the design's Achilles heel. Channing King, Indianapolis Star, "The Nintendo Switch Lite: What you need to know," 11 July 2019 Mixed in with some Wheeler originals are antiques and even vintage-inspired new pieces from Serena & Lily and Rejuvenation. Amanda Sims, House Beautiful, "The Reno of This Historic Catskills Cottage Is Impeccable," 23 May 2019 Classics like the Whiskey Smash share space with inventive originals, all credited on the menu to the bartenders who developed them. Patrick Thomas, WSJ, "Five Bars Disrupting Silicon Valley’s Nightlife," 5 Dec. 2018 The film’s performance overshot expectations and — along with The Lion King — suggests Disney’s live-action reboot strategy is working even if fans of the originals gripe. James Hibberd, EW.com, "The 17 biggest summer box office winners and losers of 2019," 14 Aug. 2019 But where Netflix focuses on building a universal library of originals, ViacomCBS is set to overwhelm rivals with content drawn from dozens of smaller channels, many of which have years’ worth of content in the bank. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Star Trek is ViacomCBS’s best hope for streaming greatness," 14 Aug. 2019

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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Statistics for original

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for original

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

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More Definitions for original



English Language Learners Definition of original

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: happening or existing first or at the beginning
: made or produced first : not a copy, translation, etc.
: not like others : new, different, and appealing



English Language Learners Definition of original (Entry 2 of 2)

: a document, film, painting, etc., which is created by someone and from which a copy or translation is made
: a person who is different from other people in an appealing or interesting way


orig·​i·​nal | \ ə-ˈri-jə-nᵊl How to pronounce original (audio) \

Kids Definition of original

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of or relating to the source or beginning : first My room is in the original part of an old house.
2 : not copied from anything else : not translated : new an original painting an original idea
3 : able to think up new things : creative

Other Words from original

originally adverb



Kids Definition of original (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is produced by an artist or writer and from which a copy or translation can be made The paintings are originals. She read the Russian novel in the original.



Legal Definition of original

1 : that from which a copy or reproduction is made both parties signed the original — compare duplicate
2 : 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.

Other Words from original

original adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on original

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for original

Spanish Central: Translation of original

Nglish: Translation of original for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of original for Arabic Speakers

Comments on original

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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