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See also: archétype



From Old French architipe (modern French archétype), from Latin archetypum (original), from Ancient Greek ἀρχέτυπον (arkhétupon, model, pattern), the neuter form of ἀρχέτυπος (arkhétupos, first-moulded), from ἀρχή (arkhḗ, beginning, origin) (from ἄρχω (árkhō, to begin; to lead, rule), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ergʰ- (to begin; to command, rule)) + τῠ́πος (túpos, blow, pressing; sort, type) (from τύπτω (túptō, to beat, strike), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)tewp- (to push; to stick)).



archetype (plural archetypes)

  1. An original model of which all other similar concepts, objects, or persons are merely copied, derivative, emulated, or patterned; a prototype. [from mid 16th c.]
    • 1658, Thomas Browne, “The Garden of Cyrus. []. Chapter V.”, in Hydriotaphia, Urne-buriall, [] Together with The Garden of Cyrus, [], London: [] Hen[ry] Brome [], →OCLC, page 192:
      According to that Cabaliſticall Dogma: If Abram had not had this Letter [i.e., ⁧ה(he)] added unto his Name he had remained fruitleſſe, and without the power of generation: [] So that being ſterill before, he received the power of generation from that meaſure and manſion in the Archetype; and was made conformable unto Binah.
    • 1790 June, “Art. VIII. Ethelinde, or, The Recluse of the Lake. By Charlotte Smith. 12mo. 5 Vols. 15s. sewed. Cadell. 1789. [book review]”, in The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, Enlarged, volume II, London: Printed for R[alph] Griffiths; and sold by T[homas] Becket, [], →OCLC, page 164:
      Sir Edward Newenden, a married man, the guardian of Ethelinde at the deceaſe of her father, and who is enamoured of his ward, is evidently a copy, in the outline, or Mr. Monckton in the novel of Cecilia. His manners, however, are of a much more engaging nature than thoſe of his archetype.
    • 1848, Richard Owen, “Description of Plates”, in The Archetype and Homologies of the Vertebrate Skeleton, London: Printed for the author, by Richard and John E. Taylor, [], →OCLC, page 177:
      Outlines of the chief developments of the dermoskeleton, in different vertebrates, which are usually more or less ossified, are added to the endoskeletal archetype: as, e.g. the median horn supported by the nasal spine [] in the rhinoceros; []
    • 1861 April, “Article I.—Archetypes.”, in E[zekiel] G[ilman] Robinson, editor, The Christian Review, volume XXVII, number CIV, Rochester, N.Y.: Benton & Andrews, publishers, →OCLC, pages 177–178:
      Now these plans, models, original patterns, existing in God's mind before He made a single plant or a single animal, are what we mean by Archetypes. An archetype, therefore, is not a real, actual, objective thing, existing independent of the copy, or of God. It is only a plan, a model, an original pattern in God's mind—an idea, or thought of God.
  2. An ideal example of something; a quintessence.
    • 1811, Richard Hurd, “A Letter to the Rev. Dr. Thomas Leland, []”, in The Works of Richard Hurd, D.D. Lord Bishop of Worcester. In Eight Volumes, volume VIII, London: Printed for T[homas] Cadell and W. Davies, [], →OCLC, page 340:
      The Bishop [of Gloucester, William Warburton] asserts there is no Archetype, because eloquence is a variable thing, depending on custom and fashion; [] there is no Archetype in nature of perfect eloquence; its very constituent parts, as they are deemed, having no substance or reality in them.
    • 2012 May 27, Nathan Rabin, “The Simpsons (Classic): “New Kid On The Block” (season 4, episode 8; originally aired 11/12/1992)”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 31 May 2012:
      New Kid On The Block” doubles as a terrific showcase for the Sea Captain who, in the grand tradition of Simpsons supporting characters, quickly goes from being a stereotype to an archetype, from being a crusty sea-captain character to the crusty sea-captain character.
  3. (literature) A character, object, or story that is based on a known character, object, or story.
    • 2009, Janet B. Rodgers, Frankie Armstrong, “Introduction: Acting and Singing with Archetypes: Tapping into Creative Potential”, in Acting and Singing with Archetypes, Milwaukee, Wis.: Limelight Editions, Hal Leonard Corporation, →ISBN, page Xiii:
      Archetypes are figures and creatures that inhabit the pools of the world's mythology, folk tales, epics, and ballads. [] Thus archetypes are universal essences that we all recognize: the Mother, the Lover, the Trickster, the Spiritual and Temporal Leader, the Devil.
  4. (psychology) According to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung: a universal pattern of thought, present in an individual's unconscious, inherited from the past collective experience of humanity.
    • 1968, C[arl] G[ustav] Jung, “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious”, in R[ichard] F[rancis] C[arrington] Hull, transl., The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Bollingen Series; XX), 2nd edition, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press; London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, published 1990, →ISBN, pages 37–38:
      The three archetypes so far discussed—the shadow, the anima, and the wise old man—are of a kind that can be directly experienced in personified form. In the foregoing I tried to indicate the general psychological conditions in which such an experience arises. But what I conveyed were only abstract generalizations. One could, or rather should, really give a description of the process as it occurs in immediate experience. In the course of this process the archetypes appear as active personalities in dreams and fantasies.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Protheans: Cipher Codex entry:
      It has been suggested that Prothean data recording is highly dependent on a certain point of view, what Carl Jung described as the collective unconscious. The 'cipher' needed to comprehend the images implanted in Shepard's mind is the cultural knowledge of a Prothean: the archetypes, biological instincts, and common experiences universal to the race.
    • 2012, Monika Kostera, “Archetypes in Organizations”, in Adam Zdrowski, Monika Kostera, transl., Organizations and Archetypes, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Northampton, Mass.: Edward Elgar Publishing, →ISBN, section 3.1 (Organizational Archetypes), pages 28–29:
      According to [Carl] Jung, all the most important ideas, in both science and religion, originate from archetypes. People acquire archetypal images and notions and consciously convert them to ideas, art, technology, and other products of culture and civilization. Archetypes also play a crucial role in the development of the individual. [] Typical archetypes connected with individuation are the archetypes of transformation, like birth, death and rebirth.
  5. (textual criticism) A protograph (original manuscript of a text from which all further copies derive).
    • 1990, Martin L[itchfield] West, “Manuscripts”, in Ernst Heitsch, Ludwig Koenen, Reinhold Merkelbach, Clemens Zintzen, editors, Studies in Aeschylus (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde [Contributions to Ancient History]; 1), Stuttgart: B[enedictus] G[otthelf] Teubner, →ISBN, part III (Manuscripts and Critics), page 321:
      The outstanding importance of this manuscript for the text of Aeschylus has long been recognized. In the last century some scholars even persuaded themselves that it was the archetype of the whole extant tradition.

Usage notes[edit]

Traditionally, archetype refers to the model upon which something is based, but it has also come to mean an example of a personality archetype, particularly a fictional character in a story based on a well-established personality model. In this fashion, a character based on the Jesus archetype might be referred to as a "Jesus archetype". See eponym for a similar usage conflict.


Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


archetype (third-person singular simple present archetypes, present participle archetyping, simple past and past participle archetyped)

  1. To depict as, model using, or otherwise associate an object or subject with an archetype.
    • 1992, ASNE: Proceedings of the 1992 Convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Easton, Pa.: American Society of Newspaper Editors, →OCLC, page 21:
      The whole issue of generalizing and overgeneralizing is always an issue. I use the term "archetyping." I say, "No, I am not stereotyping; I am archetyping." Stereotypes tend to be accusatory. I want to move the discussion away from a discussion of right and wrong to right and left—this is the way it is over here, and this is the way it is over there—and then look at the problems that develop as a result of each group interacting according to the standards of its own culture.
    • 1997, James Belich, “Myth, Race, and Identity in New Zealand”, in The New Zealand Journal of History, volume 31, number 1, Auckland: University of Auckland, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 11:
      These stereotypes of indigenous peoples implied obvious roles for the associated Europeans—heirs to the Dying, bleaching agents to the Whitening. But the interaction of conceptions of Us and Them went further, through archetyping and anti-typing. Maoris were sometimes archetyped or idealized, as with the Noble Savage and some Whitening Savages.
    • 2003 October 31, Clyde Haberman, “NYC; not poifect, dem movies of Brooklyn”, in The New York Times[2], archived from the original on 28 December 2017:
      His collaborator was Robert Singer, a professor of English and film studies at Kingsborough Community College, who lamented this week that he and his fellow Brooklynites "have been archetyped to death."
    • 2022 September 6, Caroline Davies, quoting Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, “Meghan rejects ‘gendered’ idea she was lucky to be chosen as Harry’s bride”, in The Guardian[3]:
      “But it is gendered and it’s archetyped and stereotyped that you’re so lucky, and it just feeds into this idea that you’re waiting for someone to tell you that you’re good enough, as opposed to knowing that you’re good enough on your own,” she said.


Further reading[edit]




  1. vocative masculine singular of archetypus