1 of 2


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 manner Douglas 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

Example Sentences

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 show received seven Tony Awards, including musical, original score and acting prizes for Ted Ross and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2022 Michelle Trachtenberg, who also played the character in the original series, is 37. Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 1 Dec. 2022 Denny was engaged to fiancée Emily Levitan, who works as the director of original series at Netflix. Sophie Dodd, Peoplemag, 30 Nov. 2022 The trio also earned the Academy Award for best original score. Darlene Superville, USA TODAY, 29 Nov. 2022 The trio also earned the Academy Award for best original score. Darlene Superville, ajc, 27 Nov. 2022 On this occasion, Fabrizio Mancinelli crafted a highly original score made only of two voices (a soprano and a tenor) mixed with some ambient sounds (such as footsteps or clapping hands). Davide Abbatescianni, Variety, 25 Nov. 2022 Ella Fitzgerald Fever’s original Candlelight concert series — which has featured the music of artists like Beyonce and ABBA — has been among the city’s most underrated events for months. Britt Julious, Chicago Tribune, 24 Nov. 2022 Britell and Elfman have both received multiple Oscar nominations for best original score – and both are vying for nominations again this year. Paul Grein, Billboard, 23 Nov. 2022
No new Countach could ever match the original in terms of the awestruck reaction that greeted the vehicle, named for a Piedmontese expletive uttered at the concept car. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 28 Nov. 2022 It was made to replace the original — commissioned by the Florentine Republic in 1501 as a symbol of its freedom and autonomy — after it was moved in the 19th century amid concerns about its conservation. Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2022 Men in Black is that perfect mix of boot-chasing, gun-firing acton with so much outer-wordly originality, Hollywood is still trying to suck every last ounce of life-force out of the 1997 original. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 28 Nov. 2022 Yet such is the nostalgia for the original that the Countach LPI 800-4 will always be regarded as a tribute act to its groundbreaking predecessor, despite being empirically better in every measurable metric. Mike Duff, Robb Report, 26 Nov. 2022 Efforts to flatter the French are also clear in photos from the 1892 original, Morrison points out, with hints of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia — disastrous for both nations, each suffering hundreds of thousands of dead. Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2022 Apple did make a big deal of soccer with the help of its Apple TV Plus original Ted Lasso. Chris Smith, BGR, 24 Nov. 2022 In an impressive show of restraint, the folks at Paramount+ waited a full year after the original went off the air in 2020 before announcing a streaming sequel, Criminal Minds: Evolution (premiering Nov. 24). Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 23 Nov. 2022 The song launched 1,000 covers, but nothing beats the original by Wham! Andrea Wurzburger, Peoplemag, 18 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

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 9 Dec. 2022.

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

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