The term “example” comes from the Latin word “exemplum,” which means “a sample” or “a pattern.” This is derived from the Latin root “eximere,” meaning “to take out” or “to select.”

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “*em-” means “to take” or “to distribute.”

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “eximere” developed, meaning “to take out” or “to select.” The noun “exemplum” combines “ex-” (out) and “emere” (to take), meaning “something taken out” or “a sample.”

3. Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE)

The Latin term “exemplum” evolved into Old French “essample,” meaning “a model” or “a pattern to be imitated.”

4. Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE)

The Old French “essample” was adopted into Middle English as “ensample,” meaning “an instance” or “a pattern.”

5. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “example” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, retaining the meaning of “a representative form or pattern” or “an instance illustrating a rule or principle.”

Phonetic Evolution

Over time, the pronunciation of “example” has remained relatively stable, transitioning from the Old French “essample” to the Modern English “example.”

Usage Examples

  • “The teacher gave an example to illustrate the concept.”
  • “Another example of ‘example’ in a sentence is ‘He set a good example for his younger siblings.'”

Cultural or Historical Notes

The development of the word “example” was significantly influenced by the need to illustrate rules, principles, and patterns in teaching, learning, and communication.

The word “example” reflects the importance of using specific instances to clarify and explain broader concepts, emphasizing the role of examples in education, demonstration, and understanding.