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 Ford has not released images of the all-new Bronco yet, but its Bronco R Racing prototype gives a hint of what to expect. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford declares war with all-new Bronco as Jeep Wrangler demand spikes," 8 July 2020 Sophisticated simulation tools allow engineers to model and optimize tires before ever making a prototype. Eric Tingwall, Car and Driver, "The Greatest Racer, Advancements, Blunders, Designer, and More," 1 July 2020 But this weird launch of an early prototype is likely indicative of the realities of game development in 2020, where companies are coming up with inventive ways to conduct QA tests outside of traditional offices. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Ubisoft’s next open-world game leaks as an unfinished prototype on Stadia," 11 June 2020 The dolphin prototype weighs 270 kilograms (just under 600 pounds) but is remarkably life-like. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "These $26 Million Robot Dolphins May Be the Future of Aquariums," 13 July 2020 After much thought, Lydia created the first prototype of her invention, Beat The Heat Car Seat. Joelle Goldstein,, "12-Year-Old Girl Wins $20K After Creating Car Seat Device That Helps Prevent Hot Car Deaths," 8 July 2020 Facebook created a proof-of-concept prototype for a new line of virtual reality headsets. Fortune, "How designers are visualizing America’s failure to cope with COVID-19," 7 July 2020 Pete Werner has emerged as the prototype for what the Buckeye coaches want in a Sam linebacker. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football’s junior linebackers must begin making impact in 2020: Buckeye Take," 6 July 2020 Milster said the first prototype uses visible wavelength, which is roughly 150-200 times smaller than the thickness of paper. Amanda Morris, The Arizona Republic, "Science fiction or real life? Arizona company wants to use lasers to detect coronavirus," 4 July 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

2 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prototype.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 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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