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From Middle English exaumple, example, from Old French essample (French exemple), from Latin exemplum (a sample, pattern, specimen, copy for imitation, etc., literally what is taken out (as a sample)), from eximō (take out), from ex (out) + emō (buy; acquire); see exempt. Displaced native Middle English bisne, forbus, forbusen from Old English bȳsen, and Middle English byspel from Old English bīspell. Doublet of sample.



example (plural examples)

  1. Something that is representative of all such things in a group.
    • 2013 July 26, Leo Hickman, “How algorithms rule the world”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 7, page 26:
      The use of algorithms in policing is one example of their increasing influence on our lives. And, as their ubiquity spreads, so too does the debate around whether we should allow ourselves to become so reliant on them – and who, if anyone, is policing their use.
  2. Something that serves to illustrate or explain a rule.
    • 2013 May-June, David Van Tassel, Lee DeHaan, “Wild Plants to the Rescue”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
      Plant breeding is always a numbers game. [] The wild species we use are rich in genetic variation, […]. In addition, we are looking for rare alleles, so the more plants we try, the better. These rarities may be new mutations, or they can be existing ones that are neutral—or are even selected against—in a wild population. A good example is mutations that disrupt seed dispersal, leaving the seeds on the heads long after they are ripe.
  3. Something that serves as a pattern of behaviour to be imitated (a good example) or not to be imitated (a bad example).
    • Bible, John xiii, 15
      For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
    • John Milton
      I gave, thou sayest, the example; I led the way.
    • 1818, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, Chapter 4:
      Learn from me, if not by my precepts, then at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, []
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on an afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. [] Their example was followed by others at a time when the master of Mohair was superintending in person the docking of some two-year-olds, and equally invisible.
  4. A person punished as a warning to others.
    • William Shakespeare
      Hang him; he'll be made an example.
    • Bible, 1 Corinthians x, 6
      Now these things were our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
  5. A parallel or closely similar case, especially when serving as a precedent or model.
  6. An instance (as a problem to be solved) serving to illustrate the rule or precept or to act as an exercise in the application of the rule.


Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit


example (third-person singular simple present examples, present participle exampling, simple past and past participle exampled)

  1. To be illustrated or exemplified (by).

Further readingEdit