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

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 The eight prototypes in Otay Mesa will remain as part of the border infrastructure. Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, "Trump's wall hasn't been built yet, but it's already cost local taxpayers millions," 8 May 2018 The centerpiece of Trump’s first visit to California as president last month was surveying eight border-wall prototypes on display in a dusty lot near the U.S.-Mexico border outside San Diego. John Wagner, Washington Post, "After a very brief respite, Trump resumes his war of words with California Gov. Jerry Brown," 17 Apr. 2018 Eight prototypes of the border wall were completed in San Diego in October. Fox News, "Ground broken on high-priority stretch of Trump's border wall in New Mexico," 9 Apr. 2018 The county used the law in early January to post restrictions on the southern San Diego County neighborhood of Otay Mesa, when Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited the border security wall prototypes. Phil Diehl,, "Carlsbad to allow 'temporary restrictions' on public gatherings," 26 June 2018 Republican strategists said Trump’s visit to Southern California has two purposes: to be seen next to the border wall prototypes and to collect campaign checks in Beverly Hills. Lomi Kriel, Houston Chronicle, "Democrats, protesters rally in Houston against family separations at the border," 1 June 2018 National City, a working-class suburb of about 60,000 people, is near the border wall prototypes that Trump plans to visit next week. Time, "Border Patrol Defends Videotaped Arrest of California Mother," 10 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

17 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 sum of money that is sent as a payment

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