Printable Version
Pronunciation: ig-zem-plahr, ig-zem-plêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. An ideal example serving as a model, prototype, archetype. 2. A copy of a book, a sample, an example.

Notes: An exemplar is a specifically positive example of something, worthy of copying or serving as a pattern. We have two adjectives, exemplary and exemplaric. Exemplarism is the Platonic vision of the world as made up of imperfect realizations of ideas in the mind of God. Those who subscribe to this premise may be called exemplarists.

In Play: An exemplar is an example to be followed: "Fred Astaire was an exemplar for all dancers, singers, and actors of his day." In movements with followers, the example to be followed is usually the founder or leader of the movement: "Jesus Christ is the moral exemplar of the Christian faith."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed, as usual, from Old French or, maybe, directly from Late Latin exemplarium, a noun derived from exemplum "sample, specimen", comprising Proto-Latin ex "our (of, from) + emere "to take" (Classical Latin "to buy, purchase"). Ex came from PIE eghs "out, of, from", which also underlies Russian iz "out of", Greek ek "out of, from", Lithuanian iž "from", and Irish as "out of, from". Proto-Latin emere was based on PIE em- "to take, get", found mostly today in Balto-Slavic languages like Lithuanian imti "to take", Latvian ņemt "to take", Polish mieć "to have", Czech mít "to have", and Serbian and Croatian imati "to have", (Let's give an e-bow to Anna Jung for submitting such an exemplary Good Word as today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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