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

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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

Noun in Arthurian legend, Sir Galahad is depicted as the one knight who is a paragon of virtue
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Democracy continued its retreat around the world and faded further in this country, which is supposed to be its paragon. Yvonne Abraham,, "Beat it, 2020. You’ve been truly awful.," 30 Dec. 2020 With a penchant for bright colors and patterns, Vogue’s latest cover star is a paragon of unstudied, downtown style. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, "Paloma Elsesser’s Vibrant Red Carpet Style Champions Indie Designers," 14 Dec. 2020 Beautifully designed and powerful to boot, the Area 51M is a true paragon of gaming. Gabrielle Hondorp, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Gaming Laptops You Can Buy Right Now," 8 Dec. 2020 Obama’s time in office was by no means the paragon of a presidency bound by the rules of a liberal democratic republic. James Freeman, WSJ, "Another Obama Lecture," 16 Nov. 2020 The secondary, once a paragon of consistency, has been unable to play to its usual high standards. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "How Michigan's cornerbacks plan to regain confidence ahead of matchup with Rutgers," 18 Nov. 2020 Pfizer, a 171-year-old paragon of American industry, was the first to generate truly promising data on a Covid-19 vaccine. Damian Garde, STAT, "Why the pharma industry got lucky with Pfizer — for now," 9 Nov. 2020 And the charm, wholly distinct from the brittle, moneyed artifice of Roger Moore, a later incarnation of Sir Ian Fleming’s idea of the male paragon with the license to kill. Michael Phillips,, "Sean Connery appreciation: So much more than James Bond, including an Oscar-winning role as wised-up Chicago cop," 31 Oct. 2020 The Metrodome, not exactly a paragon of pedestrian-friendly design, materialized in 1982 on the opposite side of downtown. Rick Nelson, Star Tribune, "8 urban design disasters the Twin Cities has avoided," 23 Oct. 2020

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

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of paragon was circa 1548

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paragon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for paragon


How to pronounce paragon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of paragon

formal : 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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