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

With a rippling 255-pound physique, Alzado was also the paragon of fitness in the league. The Si Staff,, "100 Figures Who Shaped the NFL’s First Century," 28 Aug. 2019 Alonso is a paragon, hitting .253 with 20 home runs at Citi Field and .265 with 18 home runs away from it. Michael Powell, New York Times, "As Wins Pile Up, Mets and Their Fans Soak in the Moment," 10 Aug. 2019 The painting is a masterwork, the organizers of this show from the Art Institute and the Getty argue, a paragon on canvas of modern femininity, of haute fashion, of painterly technique, of seasonal representation. Steve Johnson,, "'Manet and Modern Beauty' now at the Art Institute suggests that you don't know your Manet," 12 June 2019 In the opposing dugout, the left-handed starting pitcher served as a paragon for the value of these skills. Andy Mccullough,, "Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw wins on grit, not power," 13 June 2019 Her appearances during Season 1 mainly come into relevance via her profession as a yoga teacher, which serves to characterize her as a paragon of contemporary progressive ideals. Shamira Ibrahim, The Atlantic, "Will Big Little Lies Finally Show Up for Bonnie?," 21 July 2019 But the event has grown every year as a paragon of Boulder wackiness, and there will be about 1,000 people joining Kagan this time around. Mitchell Byars, The Know, "PHOTOS: Annual Tube To Work Day sends workers, laptops down Boulder Creek Friday morning," 19 July 2019 Not long after that, Gary, not a paragon of heart-healthy living, experienced his own heart attack. John Marboe, Twin Cities, "John Marboe: Mayor Gary of the Midway," 27 June 2019 The band of self-interested survivors clustered around the prime minister are not paragons of consistency or principle. The Economist, "The leader of the Thai junta tortures the rules to remain in power," 8 June 2019

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

4 Sep 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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