par·​a·​gon | \ˈper-ə-ˌgän, -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

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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


in Arthurian legend, Sir Galahad is depicted as the one knight who is a paragon of virtue

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The 32-story rental tower at 461 Dean St., in the Pacific Park complex in Brooklyn, completed in 2016 and now fully leased, was supposed to be a paragon of high-rise modular design. Stefanos Chen, The Seattle Times, "Real estate technology that could have a lasting effect on housing," 20 Nov. 2018 To start: Indian Canyon Road is packed with antique shops and galleries, and Sunnylands (a 200-acre historic estate) and the iconic neighborhood of Twin Palms are paragons of mid-century design. Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Cities in the U.S.: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 Now he's held up by liberals as a paragon of virtue. Fox News, "Christopher Steele's communications with DOJ raise questions," 11 Aug. 2018 This organic skincare brand is vegan pure, using no paragons, or artificial colors or fragrances. Amanda Hearst, Marie Claire, "Metamour Botanique Botanicals," 28 Mar. 2012 The show deserves praise for not making June a paragon of cleverness under extreme pressure. Rena Gross, Billboard, "11 Highlights -- Including Oprah -- From 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2, Episode 11 'Holly'," 27 June 2018 America withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council, a body that includes China, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other paragons of virtue. The Economist, "Politics this week," 21 June 2018 Even when a call to Family Protective Services is not required, the mothers are decidedly not the PTA paragons who bake yummy treats for the kindergarten Halloween party. Lisa Zeidner,, "New stories from Lauren Groff, who wrote President Obama's favorite novel in 2015," 4 June 2018 Thorpe — a former paragon of the British establishment, Eton- and Oxford-educated, and the leader of the Liberal Party — was disgraced. Karen Han, Vox, "How A Very English Scandal spins sensationalism into empathy," 7 July 2018

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.

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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


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


see paragon entry 1

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Statistics for paragon

Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for paragon

The first known use of paragon was circa 1548

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More Definitions for paragon



English Language Learners Definition of paragon

: a person or thing that is perfect or excellent in some way and should be considered a model or example to be copied

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More from Merriam-Webster on paragon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paragon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paragon

Spanish Central: Translation of paragon

Nglish: Translation of paragon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paragon for Arabic Speakers

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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