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

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 His meddling risks making OPEC, the oil cartel that is a focus of his wrath, look like a paragon of predictability. The Economist, "The American president is stirring up trouble in a volatile oil market," 4 July 2018 Armie Hammer is a straight white man who made a name for himself playing such big-screen paragons of straight white manhood as The Social Network’s Winklevoss twins and the Lone Ranger. Adam Green, Vogue, "Armie Hammer on Making His Broadway Debut and Reckoning with Toxic Masculinity," 19 June 2018 For outside observers, the different views on Smolensk reveal how Poland, once a pillar and paragon in the defense of democracy, has become a land divided. Marc Santora, New York Times, "After a President’s Shocking Death, a Suspicious Twin Reshapes a Nation," 16 June 2018 Hersh is not a political theorist, nor a literary memoirist, nor a paragon of journalistic behavior. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Seymour Hersh Weekly," 1 June 2018 This is chocolate ice cream for chocolate lovers — no distraction, a paragon of the form, with a delightfully chewy texture. Kara Baskin,, "The best flavors of ice cream at Toscanini’s," 29 May 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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Phrases Related to paragon

paragon of virtue

Statistics for paragon

Last Updated

16 Oct 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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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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