The term “exemplify” comes from the Latin word “exemplificare,” which means “to illustrate by example.” This is derived from the Latin roots “exemplum,” meaning “example,” and “facere,” meaning “to make” or “to do.”

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “*dhe-” means “to set” or “to put.”

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “facere” developed, meaning “to make” or “to do.” The verb “exemplificare” combines “exemplum” (example) with “facere” (to make), meaning “to make an example of” or “to illustrate by example.”

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

The Latin term “exemplificare” evolved into Old French “exemplifier,” meaning “to illustrate” or “to show by example.”

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

The Old French “exemplifier” was adopted into Middle English as “exemplifien,” meaning “to illustrate” or “to make an example of.”

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

The term “exemplify” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, retaining the meaning of “to show or illustrate by example.”

Phonetic Evolution

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

Usage Examples

  • “The teacher used a story to exemplify the lesson’s main point.”
  • “Another example of ‘exemplify’ in a sentence is ‘Her actions exemplify the company’s values.'”

Cultural or Historical Notes

The development of the word “exemplify” was significantly influenced by the need to use specific instances to clarify and illustrate broader concepts in teaching, rhetoric, and communication.

The word “exemplify” reflects the importance of using examples to demonstrate and explain ideas, emphasizing the role of concrete instances in understanding and conveying abstract principles.