Word of the Day : December 20, 2010


adjective ig-ZEM-pluh-ree


1 : deserving imitation especially because of excellence : commendable

2 : serving as a warning

3 : serving as an example, instance, or illustration

Did You Know?

Since the late 1500s, "exemplary" has been used in English for things deserving imitation. The word (and its close relatives "example" and "exemplify") derives from the Latin noun "exemplum," which means "example." Usage commentators have sometimes warned against using "exemplary" as if it were simply a synonym of "excellent," but clear-cut instances of such usage are hard to come by. When "exemplary" describes something excellent, as it often does, it almost always carries the further suggestion that the thing described is worthy of imitation.


Members of the community who have demonstrated exemplary public service will be honored at the ceremony.

"Our military and our government has responded, I believe, in exemplary fashion. We got Marines and aid workers and helicopters and food and, you know, clean water facilities. We got those down in record time." -- U.S. President Barack Obama, from the CNN transcript of a town hall meeting in the state of New Hampshire on February 2, 2010

Word Family Quiz

What 6-letter noun beginning with "s" comes from "exemplum" and refers to a piece or part of something larger? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!