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 The Navy currently has two Sea Hunter prototype vessels, 140-ton, 132-foot vessels produced by Leidos and able to crisscross the ocean. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Navy aims to integrate unmanned vehicles into carrier strike groups by mid-2020s," 23 June 2020 Smith fits the prototype of a modern NBA big man who can run the floor, thrive in pick-and-rolls, throw down alley-oop dunks, block shots and hit catch-and-shoot jumpers. Connor Letourneau,, "Six potential sleepers for the Warriors in a critical NBA draft," 13 June 2020 Although a rash of studies and a prototype string deployed from a ship showed the concept was viable, the program was plagued by technical difficulties. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "The Hunt Is On for Elusive Ghost Particles in Antarctica," 12 June 2020 Milton also noted that its fuel-cell semis are in the prototype phase and should begin production in 2021. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Nikola Badger Electric Pickup Expected to Enter Production in 2022," 12 June 2020 The product has already attracted customers such as the U.S. Army, which bought a prototype. Amanda Morris, azcentral, "3 Arizona startups compete in international bioscience competition," 11 June 2020 However, the company has indicated that the Bronco R, a racing prototype already unveiled, hints at the design of the upcoming Bronco. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford exec predicts new Bronco will lure Jeep customers away from FCA," 10 June 2020 Initially, India implemented a 10-week lockdown — and even transformed a train into a prototype quarantine facility -- but restrictions have started to ease in an effort to boost the economy there. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "India Continues to Ease Restrictions While Setting New Protocol for Future Tourism," 9 June 2020 Polte Proximity is in the prototype phase and the company plans to hold demos over the next month. Ashton Nichols, Dallas News, "Addison tech firm’s wearable device can alert co-workers when they’re invading the COVID-19 bubble," 2 June 2020

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

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prototype.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for prototype


How to pronounce prototype (audio)

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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