pro·​to·​type | \ ˈprō-tə-ˌtīp How to pronounce prototype (audio) \

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 Also, as the foundation for our new shelter is being created, Manchester will become the prototype for our neighboring towns to utilize in caring for their own homeless population., "Community News For The Manchester Edition," 2 Apr. 2021 Will Anderson, the breakout star of the 2020 Alabama signing class, was a starter from Day 1 by looking like the prototype outside linebacker. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Will Anderson talks ‘Terminator’ nickname, what he learned in breakout Alabama season," 1 Apr. 2021 And Evanston should be considered the prototype because of how the city approached its initiative, said Kamm Howard of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. Washington Post, "Evanston, Ill., leads the country with first reparations program for Black residents," 23 Mar. 2021 Other differences from the prototype include larger headlights as well as a set of black wheels, and both cars have a rear decklid spoiler. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "2022 Nissan 400Z Images Leaked, Appear to Show Production Car," 23 Mar. 2021 Evanston should be considered the prototype because of how the city approached its initiative, said Kamm Howard of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America., "Evanston, Ill., approves nation’s first reparations program for Black residents," 22 Mar. 2021 According to Musk, some issues that were already being worked out for the next prototype likely contributed to SN10’s landing issues. Mike Wehner, BGR, "We now know why Starship SN10 detonated after landing," 10 Mar. 2021 But after Allwood and other colleagues used the PIXL prototype to analyze samples of the Greenlandic stromatolites, the microbial origin didn’t hold up. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "Perseverance’s giant ‘hand lens’ will scour Mars for signs of ancient life," 8 Mar. 2021 The full-scale prototype soared more than 6 miles (10 kilometers) after lifting off from the southern tip of Texas., "‘3rd time’s a charm’: SpaceX Starship nails landing in test; later explodes," 3 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for prototype

Time Traveler

The first known use of prototype was in 1552

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Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prototype.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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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