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


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was heckled at a screening of a documentary about Mr. Rogers, the paragon of kindness and civility. Washington Post, "Tempers raised by immigration issue give way to insults," 26 June 2018 Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was heckled at a screening of a documentary about Mr. Rogers, the paragon of kindness and civility. Jonathan Lemire, The Seattle Times, "Insults and rancor: Dems risk treading on Trump’s home field," 25 June 2018 Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was heckled at a screening of a documentary about Mr. Rogers, the paragon of kindness and civility. Jonathan Lemire,, "Insults and rancor: Democrats risk treading on Trump's home field," 25 June 2018 When Sony Classical released smallish multidisc tributes to such once-famous paragons as the cellist Leonard Rose, the pianist Alexander Brailowsky and the Budapest String Quartet last... David Mermelstein, WSJ, "Casadesus: Hard to Say, Easy to Listen To," 9 Apr. 2019 Many were delighted to see this ostensible paragon of virtue take a fall. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "A New Biography Traces Tiger Woods’s Mythical Rise and Fall," 19 Mar. 2018 By the same token, anyone unmasked as less than a moral paragon will be vilified. Paula Marantz Cohen, WSJ, "Kant in Kindergarten Could Ease the Civility Crisis," 28 Dec. 2018 Now, the model, designer, and perpetual paragon of Parisian elegance brings them into her home and the interior spaces of other creative Parisians with her latest tome, Maison: Parisian Chic at Home (Flammarion, 2018). Lindsey Tramuta, Condé Nast Traveler, "Ines de la Fressange and Marin Montagut on How to Achieve 'Parisian Chic'," 1 Oct. 2018 Enter Hader’s Barry, a dour, Midwestern hitman, and a paragon of professionalism compared to the Chechens. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "You should know Anthony Carrigan, 'Gotham' villain turned Bill Hader's 'Barry' foil," 26 Apr. 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

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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Statistics for paragon

Last Updated

29 May 2019

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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

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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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

Comments on paragon

What made you want to look up paragon? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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