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

The expansion is expected to start next year, said Mr. Adam, with the first prototype dish built in China already on site about 280 miles north of Cape Town in the Northern Cape province. Wendell Roelf, The Christian Science Monitor, "South Africa's MeerKAT telescope will help uncover next space frontier," 13 July 2018 Swedish self-driving truck startup Einride is out with another eye-catching prototype. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "This electric driverless logging truck can carry up to 16 tons of timber," 12 July 2018 Apple investigated and learned Zhang downloaded confidential technical documents about self-driving car prototypes. USA TODAY, "Trump attends NATO summit. That doesn't mean he has to like it," 11 July 2018 True to Microsoft’s roots, the company said the lightweight Go would also suit the needs of businesses, which have been early adopters of Microsoft hardware including the Surface line and its Hololens augmented reality glasses prototype. Hayley Tsukayama,, "Microsoft Shrinks The Surface To A Purse-Friendly Size," 11 July 2018 Michigan is another team buying into the trend of smaller quarterbacks, having brought in shorter, quicker Shea Patterson this year as a transfer to compete with prototypes Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey. Albert Breer,, "Which Quarterbacks Will Rise to the Top of the 2019 NFL Draft Class?," 10 July 2018 Thousands of people have taken a test ride on Harley’s electric prototype in recent months as the company has gathered consumer feedback. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Harley-Davidson riders take home memories of Prague, share feelings about electric Harley," 9 July 2018 The company started with prototypes sprinkled around Brooklyn. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Cool dogs: Company develops air conditioned public dog houses for dogs on the go," 7 July 2018 The mower is still in its prototype stage, but Honda hopes to get it to 150 mph, and reclaim its title, in the future. Emily Price, Fortune, "Honda Is Making a Lawnmower That Goes 150 mph," 6 July 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

6 Sep 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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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