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From Middle French exemplaire (exemplary; a copy, facsimile; an example; a sample, specimen), from Latin exemplāris (exemplary; a copy, facsimile), from exemplum (an example; a sample; a copy or transcript). Doublet of exemplar.



exemplary (comparative more exemplary, superlative most exemplary)

  1. Deserving honour, respect and admiration.
  2. Of such high quality that it should serve as an example to be imitated; ideal, perfect.
    Her behaviour was always exemplary.
    • 1616, Francis Bacon, “A Copy of a Letter Conceived to the Written to the Late Duke of Buckingham when First He Became a Favourite to King James; []”, in James Spedding, editor, The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon: [], volume VI, London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, published 1872, OCLC 537909992, page 31:
      The Archbishops and Bishops, next under the King, have the government of the Church and affairs ecclesiastical: be not, Sir, a mean to prefer any to those places for any by-respect; but only such as for their learning, gravity, and worth are deserving: and whose lives and doctrine are and ought to be exemplary.
    • 1678, Jeremy Taylor, “Ad[dendum to] Sect. I. Considerations upon the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, and the Conception of the Holy Jesus”, in The History of the Life and Death of the Holy Jesus, part I, London: [] E. Flesher, for R[ichard] Royston; published in Jeremy Taylor; William Cave, Antiquitates Christianiæ: Or, The History of the Life and Death of the Holy Jesus: [], London: [] E. Flesher, and R. Norton, for R. Royston, [], 1678, OCLC 181885479, page 3:
      For thus the Saviour of the world became humane, alluring, full of invitation and the ſweetneſſes of love, exemplary, humble and medicinal.
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter I, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, OCLC 1000392275, page 14:
      Lady Anne could not repress one involuntary exclamation of "what an inconvenient time Mr. Granard had chosen for his death!" but otherwise she behaved with exemplary propriety. She retired to her dressing-room, which was duly darkened, and there she sat, a white cambric handkerchief in one hand, and a bottle of salts in the other.
    • 1959 March, “The 2,500 h.p. electric locomotives for the Kent Coast electrification”, in Trains Illustrated, page 125:
      A maximum of 80 m.p.h. was quickly reached on the 1 in 264 down through Three Bridges and at this pace the riding was exemplary.
  3. Serving as a warning; monitory.
    exemplary justice, exemplary punishment, exemplary damages
    • 1999, Graham Virgo, “Restitution for Torts”, in The Principles of the Law of Restitution, Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN, page 473:
      For certain torts exemplary damages may be awarded to punish the defendant for cynically committing them and other remedies are available which are purely restitutionary in effect, notably restitutionary damages and money had and received.
  4. Providing an example or illustration.
    • 16th–17th century, John Donne; Henry Alford, “Sermon CVII. Preached to the King, at Whitehall, the First Sunday in Lent.”, in The Works of John Donne, D.D., [], volume IV, London: John W[illiam] Parker, [], published 1839, OCLC 151169612, page 461:
      [T]ill he infect and poison that age, and spoil that time that he lives in by his exemplary sins, till he be pestis secularis, the plague of that age, peccator secularis, the proverbial sinner of that age, and so be a sinner of a hundred years, till in his actions he have been, or in his desires be, or in the foreknowledge of God would be a sinner of a hundred years, an inveterate, an incorrigible, an everlasting sinner, yet God comes not to curse him.
    • 1999, Marcus Doel, “Neighbourhood of Infinity – Spatial Science after Deleuze and Guattari”, in Poststructuralist Geographies: The Diabolical Art of Spatial Science, Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, →ISBN, page 161:
      [...] I want to round off my consideration of poststructuralist geographies by pursuing origami as the exemplary art of spatial science.


Derived terms[edit]



exemplary (plural exemplaries)

  1. (obsolete) An example, or typical instance.
    • 1579, [William] Fulke, “The Third Booke of Maister Heskins Parleament Repealed by W. Fulke”, in D. Heskins, D. Sanders, and M. Rastel, Accounted (among Their Faction) Three Pillers and Archpatriarches of the Popish Synagogue, (Utter Enemies to the Truth of Christes Gospell, and All that Sincerely Professe the Same) Ouerthrowne, and Detected of the Seuerall Blasphemous Heresies, London: [] Henrie Middleton for George Bishop, OCLC 19913747, page 374:
      [I]n the place by M. Hesk. alledged, denyeth that Baſill calleth breade & wine ἀντίτυπα, or exemplaria, exemplaries of the bodie and bloud of Chriſt after the conſecration, which is an impudent lye; for before the conſecration there are no ſacraments, and ſo no exemplars of the bodie and bloud of Chriſte: therefore if he called them exemplars, it muſt needs be when they are ſacraments, & yt is after conſecration: [...]
  2. (obsolete) A copy of a book or a piece of writing.
    • 1631, John Weever, “The Loboryouse Iourney and Serche of Iohan Leylande, for Englandes Antiquitees, Given of Him as a New Yeares Gift to Kynge Henry the Eyghte in the Thirty Seuenth Yeere of His Reygne”, in Ancient Fvnerall Monvments within the Vnited Monarchie of Great Britaine, Ireland, and the Islands adiacent, with the Dissolued Monasteries therein Contained: Their Founders, and what Eminent Persons Haue Beene in the Same Interred. [...], London: [] Thomas Harper. [], OCLC 940081232, page 689:
      Farther, more part of the exemplaries, curiouſly ſought by me, and fortunately found in ſundry places of this your dominion, hath bene emprinted in Germany, and now be in the preſſes chefley of Frobenus, [...]


Related terms[edit]