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 Zhanliang Liu, project lead for the effort and previously an engineer at Baidu, China’s top web search company, says his team has built a prototype for Beijing’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Will Knight, Wired, "This Chinese Lab Is Aiming for Big AI Breakthroughs," 21 Jan. 2021 The company’s founder, Bill Pounds, worked on the University of Montana Border Grizzly Project to produce the prototype for the first bear spray. Outdoor Life, "Best Bear Spray: Five Things to Consider," 5 Jan. 2021 The country is also likely to build a prototype for a lunar scientific research station and within a decade or so may send its first taikonauts to the Moon's surface. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "China Chang’e 5 probe has safely landed on the Moon [Updated]," 1 Dec. 2020 This showcasing of classical culinary skill and American bounty became the prototype for diplomatic dinners and executive functions thereafter. Washington Post, "George Washington’s 1795 Thanksgiving celebrated liberty. But the chef behind the feast had none.," 19 Nov. 2020 To combat scientific misinformation, Cook recently developed the prototype for a game that explains different misinformation tactics. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "A guide to overcoming COVID-19 misinformation," 22 Oct. 2020 Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine and the prototype for baseball's artificial turf era, has died. CBS News, "Joe Morgan, Hall of Famer and driving force of Big Red Machine, dies at 77," 12 Oct. 2020 Historically, black on-air talent are told their dialect and speaking voices do not fit the public radio prototype. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Public radio backs ending ‘objectivity,’ admitting racism, paying ‘reparations’," 19 Jan. 2021 The prototype is the first of a generation of new machines that are about a third more powerful than the largest already in commercial service. New York Times, "A Monster Wind Turbine Is Upending an Industry," 1 Jan. 2021

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

16 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prototype.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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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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