from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; a prototype.
  • noun An ideal example of a type; quintessence.
  • noun In Jungian psychology, an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A model or first form; the original pattern or model after which a thing is made; especially, a Platonic idea, or immaterial preëxisting exemplar of a natural form.
  • noun In coining, the standard weight by which others are adjusted: now called the prototype.
  • noun In comparative anatomy, a primitive generalized plan of structure assumed to have been subsequently modified or lost by differentiation and specialization: as, the vertebrate archetype.
  • noun The original form from which a class of related forms in plants or animals may be supposed to have descended.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The original pattern or model of a work; or the model from which a thing is made or formed.
  • noun (Coinage) The standard weight or coin by which others are adjusted.
  • noun (Biol.) The plan or fundamental structure on which a natural group of animals or plants or their systems of organs are assumed to have been constructed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An original model of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are merely derivative, copied, patterned, or emulated; a prototype
  • noun literature A character, story, or object that is based on a known character, story, or object.
  • noun An ideal example of something; a quintessence.
  • noun psychology According to the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, a universal pattern of thought, present in an individual's unconscious, inherited from the past collective experience of humanity.
  • verb To depict as, model using or otherwise associate a subject or object with an archetype.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun something that serves as a model or a basis for making copies


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin archetypum, from Greek arkhetupon, from neuter of arkhetupos, original : arkhe-, arkhi-, archi- + tupos, model, stamp.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French architipe (French archétype), from Latin archetypum, from Ancient Greek ἀρχέτυπον (arkhetupon, "pattern, model") neuter of ἀρχέτυπος (arkhetupos, "first-moulded"), from ἀρχή (arkhē, "first, origin ") + τύπος (typos, "sort, type, press").


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  • The anti-hero is an interesting modern day archetype.

    May 29, 2007

  • Is it really a "modern" archetype? I would say throughout history there have been anti-heroes.

    May 30, 2007

  • All archetypes have their roots in antiquity, but for the *most part* the anti-hero is a product of post-modernism. The anti-hero struggles with personal demons, wanting to do right but cannot rise above his faults. Holden Caulfield, Travis Bickle, Batman, Han Solo and many Clint Eastwood characters are modern anti-heros.

    May 31, 2007

  • Batman? What did I miss???

    May 31, 2007

  • Ahhh Superheros! Few genres are better suited to studying archetypes. Take Bruce Wayne... This guy has issues up the wazoo. He fights crime, but only as a panacea to escape the pain of his parent's death. The best deconstruction of the superhero mythos I've read (aside from "Watchmen") is Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns". This graphic novel has Bruce going head to head with his old nemesis Clark Kent; still regarded as the classic hero despite attempts to "flaw" his character in recent years.

    May 31, 2007

  • Loki/Loke might be seen as an ancient archetype of the anti-hero.

    July 17, 2008