par·​a·​gon | \ ˈper-ə-ˌgän How to pronounce paragon (audio) , -gən, ˈpa-rə- \

Definition of paragon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a model of excellence or perfection was a paragon of goodness a paragon of a wife


paragoned; paragoning; paragons

Definition of paragon (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to compare with : parallel
2 : to put in rivalry : match
3 obsolete : surpass

Paragon Has Old Italian and Greek Roots


Paragon derives from the Old Italian word paragone, which literally means "touchstone." A touchstone is a black stone that was formerly used to judge the purity of gold or silver. The metal was rubbed on the stone and the color of the streak it left indicated its quality. In modern English, both touchstone and paragon have come to signify a standard against which something should be judged. Ultimately, paragon comes from the Greek parakonan, meaning "to sharpen," from the prefix para- ("alongside of") and akonē, meaning "whetstone."

Examples of paragon in a Sentence

Noun in Arthurian legend, Sir Galahad is depicted as the one knight who is a paragon of virtue
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then there are flu viruses—so often held up as the paragon of endemicity, but actually a better example of just how absurdly confusing endemicity can get. Jacob Stern, The Atlantic, 1 Feb. 2022 To me, Shackleton remains a paragon of the virtues and abilities that comprise leadership in its most effective form. Alex Lazarow, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 The 1946 film remains a paragon of depicting the challenges that soldiers face readjusting to life back home, in part because Russell's life was incorporated into Homer's story. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 9 Nov. 2021 The nation is hardly a paragon on environmental virtue. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 26 Jan. 2022 Verdugo has not exactly been a paragon of patience towards the season’s end., 19 Oct. 2021 And Texas looks like a paragon of health compared to Florida, where there were 653.8 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in those same seven days. Karen Kaplan Science And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 13 Aug. 2021 With Tangerine and The Florida Project, Sean Baker established himself as the auteur’s auteur of the American indie scene, such a paragon of artistic integrity that other filmmakers can only look on with jealous awe. Rachel Handler, Vulture, 2 July 2021 So far, the Corvette has been a paragon of reliability—with one exception: The navigation system quit working. David Beard, Car and Driver, 11 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paragon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of paragon


circa 1548, in the meaning defined above


circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for paragon

Noun and Verb

Middle French, from Old Italian paragone, literally, touchstone, from paragonare to test on a touchstone, from Greek parakonan to sharpen, from para- + akonē whetstone, from akē point; akin to Greek akmē point — more at edge

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Time Traveler for paragon

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The first known use of paragon was circa 1548

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Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Paragon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on paragon

Nglish: Translation of paragon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paragon for Arabic Speakers


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