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archetype

Printable Version
Pronunciation: ahr-ki-taip Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An original model or type of something that serves as the model for copies or other things of the same class. 2. An ideal example of a class, the quintessence of it. 3. (Jungian psychology) An idea, image, or symbol inherited from past collective experience.

Notes: As in so many words of Greek origin (chorus, choir, architect), the CH in today's word is pronounced [k]. We have our choice of two adjectives accompanying this noun: archetypal or archetypical, each with an adverb, either archetypally or archetypically. Archetypal seems to be the more popular.

In Play: Today's Good Word can identify a model for others in its class: "The U. S. constitution has served as the archetype of the constitutions of several other countries." It can also point to an ideal example of its class: "Throckmorton P. Porkbottom is the archetype of a 'good ol' boy' southern politician."

Word History: Today's word is from the French version of Latin archetypus "original, first-made" from Greek arkhetypon "pattern, model, figure struck on a seal". The Greek word is the neuter of adjective arkhetypos "first-molded," from arkho "first, lead, command" + typos "impression, model, type". Archo comes from the verb arkhein "to begin, be first, rule". We see this word in many words borrowed from Greek, including archaic, archaeology, the study of beginnings, oligarch "(one of the) few who rule". Typos is the noun from typtein "strike". It was inherited from PIE (s)teup- "to push, strike", which came to be tup- "harm" and tundati "pushes" in Sanskrit, and steep in English. (Let's all now thank Jackie Strauss, the female vocalist of The Tridels and archetype of a Good Word contributor.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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