Definition of exemplum in English:



  • An example or model, especially a moralizing or illustrative story.

    • ‘The Policraticus became widely known as its many moralizing stories proved a popular source for the teaching exempla cited by friars in their sermons.’
    • ‘Consequently, the exempla in this section illustrate the kind of balanced prudence encouraged by Raison and Christine: the definitive ideal is the prudent woman depicted in Proverbs 31.’
    • ‘Kent examines popular works read by Florentines of all social levels, including vernacular scrapbooks and miscellanies, poetry, devotional manuals and moral exempla, civic traditions, histories, and ethnographies.’
    • ‘The poetic inscriptions on the bases of the sculptures by Donatello, which distinguish the figures as exempla by invoking spectators' attention to their feats, may be inspired by that precedent.’
    • ‘A sermon exemplum from the mid-thirteenth century provides a revealing glimpse of the active role sculptures were expected to play as vehicles of identification and empathetic response.’
    • ‘Commonplace books could be repositories for meticulously copied out poems, proverbs, and moral exempla; they could also permit a large degree of freedom in both the choice of material transcribed and in the way in which it was recorded.’
    • ‘Macbeth lives as an exemplum of the perverted hero, because of Shakespeare's ability to give life to every stage of his disastrous career.’
    • ‘This man is a positive exemplum: goodhearted, worthy, beloved, and a vital part of his community.’
    • ‘In such sermons, biblical passages and exempla were carefully selected for their ability to prompt quick identification and subsequent self-reflection o n the part of the given audience.’
    • ‘For instance, the longest exemplum in this section is that of St. Christine, the author's patron saint.’
    • ‘The visitor was squarely confronted with exempla of Christian faith and practice as manifested in devotional works of both East and West.’
    • ‘In keeping with his preface to the story, Dioneo's summing up seems deliberately to discourage any reading of the story as an exemplum, much less as a model for relationships between men and women.’
    • ‘The mock-heroic story is full of rhetoric and exempla, and it is one of the most admired of the Tales, regarded as the most typically ‘Chaucerian’ in tone and content.’
    • ‘Early practitioners of preaching distinguished between verba - the words that directly defined doctrinal points - and exempla, which illustrated them.’
    • ‘Finally, although delivery once again receives professional attention in the form of elocution, it continues to be seen as auxiliary to rhetoric and is propped up with a multitude of literary exempla.’
    • ‘For centuries past, preachers had used exempla - fables, proverbs, anecdotes - to make the principles that infused their sermons both easier understood and more attractive to their parishioners.’
    • ‘Moreover, the way that the myths are modified over time also quite plainly reveals that their protagonists were regarded as exempla, that is, embodiments of traditional virtues.’
    • ‘The odor of public corruption that surrounded the Gasthuis land affair lent it particular force as a moral exemplum.’
    • ‘Whereas the Stewart children had few pictorial precedents on the matter of negative exempla, a bounty of pictures represented choices being made.’
    • ‘He had left his church, spoken of Jesus as a human role model, and used biblical history and Christian dogmas simply as figures of speech, supportive exempla in his powerful rhetoric against the dead incarnations of past spirit.’
    allegory, moral story, moral tale, fable, lesson, exemplum
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Late 19th century: Latin, literally example.