[ proh-tuh-tahyp ]
/ ˈproʊ təˌtaɪp /


the original or model on which something is based or formed.
someone or something that serves to illustrate the typical qualities of a class; model; exemplar: She is the prototype of a student activist.
something analogous to another thing of a later period: a Renaissance prototype of our modern public housing.
Biology. an archetype; a primitive form regarded as the basis of a group.

verb (used with object), pro·to·typed, pro·to·typ·ing.

to create the prototype or an experimental model of: to prototype a solar-power car.

Origin of prototype

1595–1605; < New Latin prōtotypon < Greek prōtótypon, noun use of neuter of prōtótypos original. See proto-, type

Related forms

pro·to·typ·al, pro·to·typ·i·cal [proh-tuh-tip-i-kuhl] /ˌproʊ təˈtɪp ɪ kəl/, pro·to·typ·ic, adjectivepro·to·typ·i·cal·ly, adverb

Can be confused

archetype prototype Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prototype

British Dictionary definitions for prototype


/ (ˈprəʊtəˌtaɪp) /


one of the first units manufactured of a product, which is tested so that the design can be changed if necessary before the product is manufactured commercially
a person or thing that serves as an example of a type
biology the ancestral or primitive form of a species or other group; an archetype

Derived Forms

prototypal, prototypic (ˌprəʊtəˈtɪpɪk) or prototypical, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medicine definitions for prototype


[ prōtə-tīp′ ]


A primitive or ancestral form or species.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.