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 Rather, World Athletics will be prohibiting the use of shoe prototypes in competition. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "The Nike Vaporfly Just Survived a Potential Ban," 31 Jan. 2020 But when those drivers are GM engineers spinning the wheels of two new prototype 2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette Stingrays in the car's home town, then our ears perk up a bit. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, "Cops Nab 2 GM Engineers Driving 100+ MPH In Chevy Corvettes," 12 Jan. 2020 Golden rice, first unveiled as a prototype in 1999, fits the bill: Adding less than a cup of the grain to a child’s diet could meet of their daily needs. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Golden Rice Approved as Safe for Consumption in the Philippines," 3 Jan. 2020 Unlike the new Russian system, two Air Force prototypes are designed to be carried and released by aircraft, not launched atop ICBMs. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race," 27 Dec. 2019 The construction site is located close to where the Trump administration built and tested eight border wall prototypes in late 2017. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Border wall contracts in Arizona and California use $316M from canceled military projects," 27 Nov. 2019 Erik had gotten as far as building two prototypes in his backyard before the effort stalled, leaving one of the unfinished structures vacant for me. Wes Enzinna, Harper's magazine, "Gimme Shelter," 19 Nov. 2019 Kepler arranged the launch through Innovative Space Logistics, the Dutch launch broker that arranged for Keplers first two prototypes to launch in 2018 on a Chinese Long March 11 and Indian PSLV. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Virgin Orbit targets Mars, SpaceX to launch rideshares on time," 11 Oct. 2019 SpaceX is currently building two Starship prototypes that are meant to fly much higher than Starhopper — one in Boca Chica and another in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Loren Grush, The Verge, "SpaceX’s new test rocket briefly hovers during first free flight," 26 July 2019

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

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prototype.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 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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