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

In early 2018, the company launched its prototype ICEYE-X1 to prove the technology and ICEYE-X2, their first commercial satellite, was put into orbit in early December. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "How Small Satellites Will Help Police Earth's Vast Oceans," 4 Feb. 2019 On my prototype, the accelerometer is almost completely non-functional, and the device doesn’t know when the keyboard is in tablet position — the keys remain active, and there’s no prompt to activate Windows’ tablet mode. Sam Byford, The Verge, "The Falcon is a cute 8-inch laptop that folds into a janky tablet," 5 Dec. 2018 Camera software from SenseTime has helped Honda improve the performance of its self-driving prototypes. Adrienne Roberts And Sean Mclain, WSJ, "Honda to Invest $2.75 Billion in GM’s Self-Driving Car Unit," 3 Oct. 2018 Pete Golibersuch, Ro’s VP of design, says that when his team started working on Zero’s branding — which is distinct from Roman’s — their early prototypes were based on blue and white color schemes meant to connote fresh air. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Two-thirds of US smokers say they want to quit. This company has a new idea for helping them.," 18 Sep. 2018 Young innovators will invent, make and craft solutions to real-world challenges by building their own prototypes and discovering that anything is possible. Community Report, Houston Chronicle, "Summer STEM camp engages Dayton children," 3 July 2018 In his Lexington studio, an idyllic farm homestead transformed into modern work space, Janney builds his prototypes and experiments with music and lighting. Cindy Atoji Keene,, "Art ‘eats at me all day long’," 29 June 2018 As noted by Vogue, the idea is a prototype dubbed Canvas of the Future. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2020 Collection Includes Purses with Television Screens," 10 May 2019 The committee will look for proven technologies that are at prototype stage and can be applied to public transit, Ms. Haot said. Mengqi Sun, WSJ, "MTA Taps Techies to Help Fix Mass Transit," 10 Oct. 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

31 May 2019

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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).


a device or gadget

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