orig·​i·​nal | \ə-ˈri-jə-nᵊl, -ˈrij-nəl\

Definition of original 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic : the source or cause from which something arises specifically : originator

2a : 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.

3a : 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.



Definition of original (Entry 2 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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for original

Synonyms: Noun

archetype, prototype

Synonyms: Adjective

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

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


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.


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Visitors can pore over originals of the many newspapers that have served La Porte and the neighboring communities over the years, one as early as 1892. Carissa D. Lamkahouan, Houston Chronicle, "A quiet place to meet old La Porte," 10 July 2018 As good a place to start as any is Viper’s Drag, his 2014 collaboration with trumpeter Steven Bernstein & the Hot 9 that brings glorious life to Butler originals as wells as Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller. Dan Deluca, Philly.com, "Dan DeLuca's Mix Picks: Samantha Fish at the Hard Rock, Chuck Prophet two times and Kool & the Gang at the Dell," 5 July 2018 With 34 new Christmas originals coming, there are bound to be some exciting stars playing the leads. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Sisters Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Ashley Williams to Co-Star in Two Hallmark Christmas Movies," 27 June 2018 The sequel comes 22 years after the original became a hit and cemented Cruise’s place as an A-Lister. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Tom Cruise Says His Top Gun 2 Costar Val Kilmer Is 'Doing Really Well' After Cancer Battle," 11 July 2018 The original was used for royal baby christenings up until 2008 when it was deemed too fragile for future use. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "See the First Photo of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Children All Together," 9 July 2018 The desk and chair are actually reproductions, by the way, but the originals are owned by Harvard and part of a public tour at the Houghton Library there. John F. Kennedy Library & Museum Boston, Mass. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New England museums to visit this summer and fall," 4 July 2018 Over the past 18 months, volunteers have gone through Quinn’s scrapbooks, page by page, digitizing the clippings and preserving the originals. Yvonne Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, "One man’s mission to remember and honor those lost to AIDS," 9 June 2018 After her reality show experience, Barrera gained prominence with telenovela roles, most recently co-starring in Netflix’s first Spanish-language original, Club de Cuervos. Yolanda Machado, Harper's BAZAAR, "Melissa Barrera Finds Her Stride on Starz's Vida," 15 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Hopefully, wholly original movies written and directed by women, like Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, will join the slate, too. refinery29.com, "Looking Ahead To The 2019 Lineup, Will Hollywood Greenlight More Women-Led Projects?," 13 July 2018 Where Netflix succeeded is also where HBO ostensibly failed — in limited series and original movies. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: How Netflix Edged HBO and What It Means for This Year's Race," 12 July 2018 In an interview, Pocan (D-Wis.) said the legislation would allow immigration laws to be enforced but put an end to a 15-year-old agency that had diverged from its original mission. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Leaked recordings of Ga. governor candidate highlight why people mistrust politicians," 11 July 2018 During the past year, the streaming giant has released seven original movies that have the glossy sheen of a 2003 romantic comedy, minus the offensive tropes. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Netflix Is Making the Rom-Com Cool Again," 10 July 2018 Has Netflix’s sizeable investment in original science-fiction movies been a bust? Jason Kehe, WIRED, "Sci-Fi Invades Netflix—as They Both Invade Your Home," 9 July 2018 The replica of the original version has been passed down through generations and Prince Louis is the eighth baby to wear it. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Prince Louis Is Wearing the Exact Same Christening Outfit George and Charlotte Wore," 9 July 2018 Recently, a letter was published by 19 individuals urging the government to break up ICE, saying the group has strayed far from its original mission. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "Why they risked everything to Occupy ICE | Will Bunch," 5 July 2018 The 12th’s New Moon is prime time for tender retreat in order to reconnect to your original creative mission. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Monthly Lovescopes July 2018," 2 July 2018

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 1

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Statistics for original

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

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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)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of original (Entry 2 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


orig·​i·​nal | \ə-ˈri-jə-nᵊl \

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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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