Definition of archetype in US English:



  • 1A very typical example of a certain person or thing.

    ‘the book is a perfect archetype of the genre’
    • ‘As an archetype, she represents the Rule of Law.’
    • ‘This is ultimately about simple leadership archetypes.’
    • ‘They're also examples of two completely different archetypes of the baseball character.’
    • ‘There is character development of a sort, but the Star Trek crew are more archetypes than they are people.’
    • ‘I think the reason I find this whole article so amusing is because it's the ultimate archetype of all news stories about weblogs.’
    • ‘In fact, all of the dramatis personae are sketched as archetypes rather than fully developed characters - the noble and loyal warrior, the scheming courtesan, etc.’
    • ‘One cartoon discusses 60 + high school archetypes, and these teeny drawings capture the characters with perfect, hilarious economy.’
    • ‘These were archetypes meant to represent a type of human personality.’
    • ‘In this play each character represents a fragmented archetype, as well as personalities - the creator, the stranger, the lover, the dreamer.’
    • ‘Caffey's Alberta is less a full-fledged personality than an archetype.’
    • ‘Hemingway is remembered not only as one of America's most important writers, but as an archetype of a particular American genre of masculinity.’
    • ‘Styling themselves the ‘Young Disciples’, Matthew, Peter and Paul represent three different archetypes of black male identity.’
    • ‘An eminent scientist and founder of top Pentagon contractor OsCorp, Norman Osborne / Green Goblin is the quintessential archetype of the greedy American capitalist.’
    • ‘They are resentment personified, archetypes of men with grudges against the world, who - unlike Macbeth - are thereby predisposed to evil.’
    • ‘In some senses, he represents the latest incarnation of an archetype that crops up time and again in popular music.’
    • ‘Douglas Camp's forte is representing traditional African archetypes in a physical form that's pure narrative.’
    personification, embodiment, incarnation, paragon
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An original that has been imitated.
      ‘the archetype of faith is Abraham’
      • ‘Musui is the original archetype of man, modelled after the Santhal boy who was Radhakrishnan's first model at the art college in Santiniketan.’
      • ‘For Socrates the act of communication is grounded in the world of original forms, archetypes, or abstract ideas.’
      • ‘Thoth, as the earlier archetype of Hermes and subsequently Mercury was a potent force in the Egyptian pantheon.’
      • ‘An instant classic of its kind, it was the lively and original archetype for fantasy across the board.’
      • ‘Those who take Mozart's concerto as an archetype may find Rawsthorne's example a bit surprising.’
      • ‘The music alludes to the sounds of the ancient string instrument through bold repeated chords at the outset, which are set against the antithesis of fugal imitation alluding to Bachian archetypes.’
      typification, type, prototype, representative, stereotype
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology.
      ‘mythological archetypes of good and evil’
      • ‘Frye's talk of literary archetypes and symbols, his penchant for diagrams that looked like astrological charts, his love of the mystic poet William Blake, all aroused McLuhan's suspicions.’
      • ‘In the same way traditional literature possesses archetypes, modern fictional works can hold these recurring images of universal significance as well.’
      • ‘The wider significance of archetypes in literature was explored by N. Frye.’
      • ‘Joseph Campbell, in his work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, examines the mythological hero's journey and its attending archetypes.’
      • ‘In Aion, he concludes that the astrological fish is a symbol of the archetype of the Self.’
      • ‘Duncan and Jess came to artistic maturity together, ever expanding and refining a study of world literature and art focused on myths, symbols and archetypes.’
      • ‘Mythologists have long been aware of the fact that certain motifs or archetypes and even whole plots are found in cultures that are not geographically connected.’
      • ‘The symbolism and archetypes he's playing with are not what you'll usually find in comics, which is why he makes interesting comics.’
      • ‘Romeo and Juliet is the archetype of literary romance and as a result, this theme has appeared in countless songs.’
      • ‘Mythology, Jung claimed, bases its stories on the archetypes.’
      • ‘By focusing too tightly on symbols and archetypes, Werness sometimes neglects artistic process and unique aspects of cultural significance.’
      • ‘Jogen Chowdhury is more direct, eschewing the archetype or the symbolic for the specific and explicit in his paintings.’
      • ‘The snake in the garden, then, is many things: real and present danger, archetype, and theological symbol.’
      • ‘The archetype of the domineering, meddling woman persists in folk motifs and literature throughout history and across cultures.’
      • ‘So a story contains a frame, plot, structure, one or more characters and conflict, and is also likely to contain insight and archetypes, symbols and motifs, stakes and obstacles, a premise and themes.’
      • ‘Western culture gives us many examples of the archetype of the Wicked Queen.’
      • ‘Much like the book, the movie uses symbolism and archetypes extremely well.’
    3. 1.3Psychoanalysis (in Jungian psychology) a primitive mental image inherited from the earliest human ancestors, and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious.
      • ‘Avatars portray universal human themes and ideas, similar to the dreams expression of archetypes from the collective unconscious’
      • ‘In most instances the neglected baby is the Jungian archetype of the divine child.’
      • ‘According to Carl Jung, the collective unconscious contains archetypes, universal mental predispositions not grounded in experience.’
      • ‘Essentially, the theory can be stated as a psychological law: whenever a phenomenon is found to be characteristic of all human communities, it is an expression of an archetype of the collective unconscious.’
      • ‘Never perhaps until C. G. Jung do we find the concept of archetypes of the collective unconscious so clearly formulated.’


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek arkhetupon ‘something moulded first as a model’, from arkhe- ‘primitive’ + tupos ‘a model’.