pro·​to·​type | \ˈprō-tə-ˌtīp \

Definition of prototype 

1 : an original model on which something is patterned : archetype

2 : an individual that exhibits the essential features of a later type

3 : a standard or typical example

4 : a first full-scale and usually functional form of a new type or design of a construction (such as an airplane)

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Did You Know?

The prefix prot-, or proto-, comes from Greek and has the basic meaning "first in time" or "first formed." A prototype is someone or something that serves as a model or inspiration for those that come later. A successful fund-raising campaign can serve as a prototype for future campaigns. The legendary Robin Hood, the "prototypical" kindhearted and honorable outlaw, has been the inspiration for countless other romantic heroes. And for over a century, Vincent van Gogh has been the prototype of the brilliant, tortured artist who is unappreciated in his own time.

Examples of prototype in a Sentence

They tested the prototype of the car. He is developing a prototype for his invention. He is the prototype of a conservative businessman. The Sherlock Holmes stories are the prototypes of modern detective stories.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Kazan Arena Capacity: 45,000 Kazan Arena, located in Kazan, opened in 2013 as the first of Russia’s new generation of football stadiums and was used as the prototype for the other new arenas. Zoe Szathmary, Fox News, "2018 World Cup stadiums hosting matches in Russia: A guide," 13 June 2018 Much as animosity toward President Donald Trump rouses Democrats, Pelosi is a bete noire for Republicans, who’ve long targeted her as the prototype of a San Francisco liberal. John Mccormick,, "Republicans Put Target on Pelosi in Fight to Control Congress," 4 Apr. 2018 The company is speaking with a major school district in Pennsylvania that agreed to buy the product as soon as the working prototype—a 50 pound, 20-square-foot sheet—could be customized to fit their space. Dan Robitzski, Popular Mechanics, "This Bulletproof Curtain Could Protect Students From Gunmen," 8 Mar. 2018 What began as a warehouse prototype in Bend, Oregon has taken off as the first full-service airport gym in the country. Marie Salcido, Sunset, "The Best New Place to Squeeze in a Workout: The Airport," 22 Jan. 2018 One was to be used as a prototype, and one was built as old Battista’s personal vehicle and show car. Davey G. Johnson, Car and Driver, "The Most GTB: Battista Pininfarina’s Personal Ferrari 275GTB Is Spectacular, and for Sale," 10 Jan. 2018 SpaceX wants to launch around 4,000 satellites for the same purpose; its prototypes are doing well. Troy Farah, Discover Magazine, "The Web, Worldwide," 19 Oct. 2018 Manufacturers are looking to the eyewear company Warby Parker as the prototype for selling cooking tools directly to the consumer. Florence Fabricant, The Seattle Times, "8 great kitchen tools you didn’t know you needed," 29 Aug. 2018 The report's reemergence is perfectly timed: Trump headed to California Tuesday morning to get his first up-close look at eight prototypes for a border wall, his signature campaign promise. Kaila White, azcentral, "Trump tweets anti-immigrant study, says, 'Wall will pay for itself'," 13 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prototype.' 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 prototype

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prototype

French, from Greek prōtotypon, from neuter of prōtotypos archetypal, from prōt- + typos type

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Statistics for prototype

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for prototype

The first known use of prototype was in 1552

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More Definitions for prototype



English Language Learners Definition of prototype

: an original or first model of something from which other forms are copied or developed

: someone or something that has the typical qualities of a particular group, kind, etc.

: a first or early example that is used as a model for what comes later

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Comments on prototype

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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