par·​a·​digm ˈper-ə-ˌdīm How to pronounce paradigm (audio)
 also  -ˌdim
: example, pattern
especially : an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype
… regard science as the paradigm of true knowledge. G. C. J. Midgley
: an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms
: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated
the Freudian paradigm of psychoanalysis
broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind
paradigmatic adjective
paradigmatically adverb

Did you know?

Paradigm traces to a Greek verb meaning "to show," and has been used in English to mean "example" or "pattern" since the 15th century. Some debate exists, 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 it 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. In that work, Kuhn admitted that he had used paradigm in 22 different ways. Some usage commentators now advise avoiding the term entirely on the grounds that it is overused.

Example Sentences

And the paradigm of a thing to be philosophical about is death. Jim Holt, New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 2009 Such problems drive home a critical flaw in the paradigm of energy independence—namely, that energy isn't a zero-sum game anymore. Paul Roberts, Mother Jones, May/June 2008 That the biomedical paradigm of single cause and single disease was a chimera was well understood by even its most vigorous advocates. Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century, 2007 Her recent book provides us with a new paradigm for modern biography. the Freudian paradigm of psychoanalysis a new study that challenges the current evolutionary paradigm See More
Recent Examples on the Web The German automaker’s performance division has just announced that its paradigm-shifting hypercar is the fastest production car in Nürburgring-Nordschleife history after circling the treacherous circuit in 6:35.183. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 11 Nov. 2022 Already a living legend in hip-hop, having delivered six straight paradigm-shifting albums, West, who is now known as Ye, was cashing in his cultural capital across multiple mediums. Ben Sisario, New York Times, 26 Oct. 2022 And according to the criteria laid out in Alfred Nobel’s will, that paradigm-shifting discovery also has to have benefited humankind. Megan Molteni, STAT, 6 Oct. 2022 And according to the criteria laid out in Alfred Nobel’s will, that paradigm-shifting discovery also has to have benefited humankind. Megan Molteni,, 3 Oct. 2022 The White House’s embrace of a progressive agenda was born from decades of organizing and advocacy by movements, together with paradigm-shifting presidential candidates who were unafraid to run on bold, transformative platforms. Leah Greenberg, WSJ, 19 Aug. 2022 Caught in the middle, Cameron’s paradigm-shifting recharge project was at risk of running dry. Susie Cagle, Wired, 12 Apr. 2022 Perhaps the most paradigm-shifting truck of 2021 wasn’t the R1T or Hummer EV, but rather the humble Ford Maverick. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 19 Mar. 2022 The story follows Bix’s search for inspiration, and the significance of each aspect of what will ultimately become his second paradigm-shifting idea is revealed over the course of the novel. Lauren Oyler, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paradigm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Late Latin paradigma, from Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknynai to show side by side, from para- + deiknynai to show — more at diction

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of paradigm was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near paradigm

Cite this Entry

“Paradigm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



par·​a·​digm ˈpar-ə-ˌdīm How to pronounce paradigm (audio)
: an example showing how something is to be done : model
: an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms
paradigmatic adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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