Word of the Day

: June 16, 2024


noun PAIR-uh-dyme

What It Means

Paradigm is a formal word that refers to a pattern or example, and especially to an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype. It can also refer to a theory or group of ideas about how something should be done, made, or thought about.

// Her latest book provides us with a new paradigm for modern biography.

// Several speakers at the conference focused their presentations on challenging what has been a dominant educational paradigm.

See the entry >

paradigm in Context

“In a music paradigm that’s increasingly focused on individual tracks, artists still have a chance to make a bigger statement about the world, and themselves, through larger collections that can explore a variety of styles and emotions.” — Tom Roland, Billboard, 23 Jan. 2024

Did You Know?

Paradigm comes from the Greek verb paradeiknynai, meaning “to show side by side.” It has been used in English to mean “example” or “pattern” since the 15th century. There is debate, however, about what kind of example qualifies as a paradigm. Some people say it’s a typical example, while others insist it must be an outstanding or perfect example. The scientific community has added to the confusion by using paradigm to mean “a theoretical framework,” a sense popularized by American scientist Thomas S. Kuhn in the second edition of his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published in 1970. Some usage commentators now advise avoiding the term entirely on the grounds that it is overused, but we contend that it can sometimes make a useful, conversation-enriching replacement for idea, theory, or concept, as in “an article about sandwiches that shifts the paradigm by including hot dogs.”

Name That Synonym

Rearrange the letters to form a synonym of paradigm: LEXAPREM



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!