par·​a·​digm ˈper-ə-ˌdīm How to pronounce paradigm (audio)
 also  -ˌdim
: example, pattern
especially : an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype
… regard science as the paradigm of true knowledge. G. C. J. Midgley
: an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms
: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated
the Freudian paradigm of psychoanalysis
broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind
paradigmatic adjective
paradigmatically adverb

Did you know?

Paradigm traces to a Greek verb meaning "to show," and has been used in English to mean "example" or "pattern" since the 15th century. Some debate exists, however, about what kind of example qualifies as a paradigm. Some people say it's a typical example, while others insist it must be an outstanding or perfect example. The scientific community has added to the confusion by using it to mean "a theoretical framework," a sense popularized by American scientist Thomas S. Kuhn in the second edition of his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published in 1970. In that work, Kuhn admitted that he had used paradigm in 22 different ways. Some usage commentators now advise avoiding the term entirely on the grounds that it is overused.

Examples of paradigm in a Sentence

And the paradigm of a thing to be philosophical about is death. Jim Holt, New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 2009
Such problems drive home a critical flaw in the paradigm of energy independence—namely, that energy isn't a zero-sum game anymore. Paul Roberts, Mother Jones, May/June 2008
That the biomedical paradigm of single cause and single disease was a chimera was well understood by even its most vigorous advocates. Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century, 2007
Her recent book provides us with a new paradigm for modern biography. the Freudian paradigm of psychoanalysis a new study that challenges the current evolutionary paradigm
Recent Examples on the Web Through this exchange, soldiers will develop the same instinctual trust natural to the human-human war-fighting paradigm with machines. IEEE Spectrum, 27 Apr. 2024 There’s no such north-south paradigm, even though Los Angeles’ boundaries are 50% larger that way than east-west. Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for paradigm 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'paradigm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Late Latin paradigma, from Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknynai to show side by side, from para- + deiknynai to show — more at diction

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of paradigm was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near paradigm

Cite this Entry

“Paradigm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


par·​a·​digm ˈpar-ə-ˌdīm How to pronounce paradigm (audio)
: an example showing how something is to be done : model
: an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms
paradigmatic adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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