Definition of original in English:



  • 1Present or existing from the beginning; first or earliest.

    ‘the original owner of the house’
    ‘the plasterwork is probably original’
    • ‘The original language of Algeria was Berber, which has varied dialects throughout the country.’
    • ‘Langholm Terrace is designed around the original lodge and stables of Buccleugh House, once owned by the Duke of Montague.’
    • ‘In North America alone, there are many aboriginal cultures that no longer know a word of their original languages.’
    • ‘The original design provided for the restoration of existing courtrooms.’
    • ‘She says poor maintenance by the Town Council has destroyed the original design.’
    • ‘Saved at a young age, he learned Greek so that he could read the New Testament in its original language.’
    • ‘Only one of the lions, on the eastern arch, is original.’
    • ‘The old houses that were left as they were in that same area are being put back to their original style in the process.’
    • ‘I'm looking forward to the Gehry building, though, even though it's been watered down a bit from its original design.’
    • ‘At Wapping we were able to see the twin tunnels which were the original Brunel designed ones.’
    • ‘The leather seating in the sunken area is original to the house.’
    • ‘The new development has been designed to fit in with the design of the original stone houses.’
    • ‘The original building was designed for only half the number of children on the school's current roll.’
    • ‘The final design will maintain these original features.’
    • ‘The original path was a series of stepping stones laid in the lawn, which I was able to reuse.’
    • ‘The whole hotel is a combination of original features and modern design.’
    • ‘He reads the press in the original language and blogs it for English speakers.’
    • ‘In fact, the city currently has no way of policing contractors to ensure they do follow their original designs.’
    • ‘Away from the grand pedigree of the original building, the design of the hotel's new tower echoes the shapes and colours of the old one well.’
    • ‘The original curves are not affected, and this process preserves the original shape.’
    • ‘The use of the original languages with English sub-titles was a brilliant and compelling device.’
    indigenous, native, aboriginal
    first, earliest
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  • 2Created directly and personally by a particular artist; not a copy or imitation.

    ‘original Rembrandts’
    ‘playing original material’
    • ‘People came in on spec, just because they'd heard there was a local band who were actually playing original material.’
    • ‘Television is no better for those of us hungry for imaginative fare, and the dearth of original screenplays makes this writer's blood run cold.’
    • ‘Beginning January 20, the Museum will display 14 original oil paintings by Kathy Jakobsen in the Community Gallery.’
    • ‘Modern classical is a term used as a prop by people who can't create an original melody!’
    • ‘The best way to get this look is to start knitting yourself and create a one-off, original piece, that's just your colour.’
    • ‘We have more stuff available but at the same time we have actually less original material being produced.’
    • ‘He also wants to recruit an artistic director and freelance choreographers to create more original works for the company.’
    • ‘The gallery showcases some original European and American paintings dating back to the Baroque era of the 17th century.’
    • ‘Also playing a major role in the production is Graham Porter, who has designed an original score to be used during production.’
    • ‘There comes a time in your life when you want to replace the posters in your home by original art.’
    • ‘Fortunately his family made some copies of the original manuscript and so we can see now what he really wrote.’
    • ‘There is still a market for good original art but with a caution flag on the price point unless it is by a well-known artist.’
    • ‘On one side of it you have writers building on common archetypes to create original works, and to enrich the genre.’
    • ‘New or original material is sorely lacking, and any non-mainstream artist is ignored.’
    • ‘The multimedia production also included an original score by artist-musician Rodney Graham and rock duo Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.’
    • ‘His second album released with Sony showed his talent as a serious music writer of original works.’
    • ‘And that Starbucks itself may help break new artists and develop original material.’
    • ‘He gave me about 20 minutes to respond to an emailed copy of the original article.’
    • ‘Beth has used photo montage, acrylics, oils and pastels to create truly original works.’
    • ‘Her goal is also to create playful, original art that cannot be commodified.’
    authentic, genuine, actual, real, true, pukka, bona fide, veritable, not copied, archetypal, prototypical, master
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  • 3Not dependent on other people's ideas; inventive and unusual.

    ‘a subtle and original thinker’
    • ‘Like everything else at The Big Idea it is completely original and unique to the centre.’
    • ‘By Goya's time the most interesting and original artists were no longer interested in this particular kind of symbolism or any kind of allegory.’
    • ‘Two original ways of presenting the dial motif have been designed: either plain or set with diamonds.’
    • ‘Foremost, he was an original thinker with ideas, and with an ability to formulate new questions in new ways.’
    • ‘Either way, Fred Flare is a great place to find original gifts for everyone imaginable.’
    • ‘She was a serious artist, a painter of extraordinary and disturbing vision, a talented dancer and also a witty and original writer.’
    • ‘He created original sounds from his cymbals and skins using sticks, brushes, and even his hands.’
    • ‘Erofeyev is an absurdly original writer of the utmost importance.’
    • ‘Also, single word titles are often not unique, and I like inventing original things.’
    • ‘He is quite an original thinker and really did invent the idea of Mozart as a brat so convincingly that now most people think it's fact.’
    • ‘I don't need or require beautiful and original web page design and execution to this end, either.’
    • ‘The married man will probably run out of original gift ideas sooner or later.’
    • ‘Freud certainly had many original ideas; but even the most inventive minds are indebted to their predecessors.’
    • ‘But do have a stab at Ulysses, if only to see how linguistically inventive and original Joyce was.’
    • ‘Daniel Smith is unquestionably one of the most exciting, original musicians to emerge on to the British blues scene in recent years.’
    • ‘He was a much sought-after consultant, both for his original ideas and his unrivalled contacts in sport.’
    • ‘Who needs to make creative decisions about original ideas when you can mould an endless stream of desperate kids into carbon copies of what went before?’
    • ‘It keeps to a high standard of interior design with exciting and original items.’
    • ‘Those are just ideas, each less original than the one before (I lined them up that way).’
    • ‘The contest is open to all original bands and musicians - whatever the musical style.’
    • ‘The Labatt People in Action program funds original summer projects designed by students that aid a charity.’
    innovative, creative, imaginative, innovatory, innovational, inventive, ingenious
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  • 1Something serving as a model or basis for imitations or copies.

    ‘the portrait may be a copy of the original’
    ‘one set of originals and four photocopies’
    • ‘He said such evidence could include originals or copies of documents authenticated by the UN fact-finding commission.’
    • ‘This allowed pirates for the first time to reproduce what was for all intents and purposes an exact copy of an original.’
    • ‘You are required to carry the vehicle registration document; take a copy and leave the original at home.’
    • ‘Moreover, all of it is as good as new, and every copy identical to the original.’
    • ‘He agreed to copy the documents inside, then burn the original papers he had received, which were also copies, not originals.’
    • ‘The ‘evidence’ of this appears to be from reports in news items like this one that the copies circulating are not originals…’
    • ‘That has now changed, as the Times reporter admitted that the memos he used are not originals, but retyped copies.’
    • ‘However, it is hoped to have another exhibition later in the year and anyone who would like to give photos for this can bring them to Lorrarine Foy who will have them copied and the originals returned immediately.’
    • ‘Art historians have concluded that the statue is a late Roman copy of a Greek original.’
    • ‘Accessories and sunglasses with well-known brand names are also available, though, more often than not, they are copies rather than originals.’
    • ‘Producing very high-quality colour originals and copies is what business requires, but this technology is no longer simply the domain of the specialist or professional.’
    • ‘Renaissance scholars based their conception of classical art on statues, particularly Greek ones and Roman copies of Greek originals.’
    • ‘But the site is a carbon copy of the original - set up by sophisticated criminal gangs often based in eastern Europe.’
    • ‘The digital world with its zeroes and ones and perfect copies of originals has changed the movie landscape forever, which is why the movie world's priorities have been permanently altered.’
    • ‘The fact of the matter is that, for whatever reason, both the original and the copy of that 1990 letter have gone astray.’
    • ‘On this page, presumably a copy of the original, sections 23-27 have simply been crossed out.’
    • ‘Patients took home a copy, while the original was kept in the chart and updated at each visit.’
    • ‘Because the Lausos collection may well have continued this tradition, the question inevitably arises as to whether the images displayed in Constantinople were originals or copies.’
    • ‘Material kept in these environments, even if partly protected, is still susceptible to exterior forces, and the replacement of originals with copies is one way of arresting further deterioration.’
    • ‘The first examples of his new art appeared in 1884, in the form of gorgeously enamelled gold snuffboxes copied from 18th-century originals.’
    • ‘Even if you lose your original, a second copy is safely stored somewhere else.’
    archetype, prototype
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    1. 1.1the original The form or language in which something was first produced or created.
      ‘the study of Russian texts in the original’
      • ‘Those readers who wish to see just how far MS has pushed back the envelope of English can read the original in all its glory here.’
      • ‘Al-Biruni studied Indian literature in the original, translating several Sanskrit texts into Arabic.’
      • ‘Cathal writes in Irish but read the translations in English as well as the original in Irish.’
      • ‘Translations from the German are sometimes heavy, perhaps reflecting the original.’
      • ‘The result is a near approximation to the original, and the English version is a treat on its own merit.’
      • ‘This would offer the student the full iconic content of the original as well as the French text.’
      • ‘We assume a translation is second-hand and only the original can provide definitive clarification.’
      • ‘He even translated some fragments of Hamlet twice, first as a French piece, then keeping closer to the original.’
      • ‘This was an attempt to give the basic message of Gita to those who find it difficult to understand the original in Sanskrit.’
      • ‘What, then, should the translator's state of mind be when facing the original?’
      • ‘It is not as if the second part is in brackets as if it is a translation of the original; it is all blended in together.’
      • ‘Is it possible to draw a distinction between translation and the original in the case of this novel?’
      • ‘The term is of course a mere English translation which may fail to catch the subtlety of the original.’
      • ‘In Norway not a lot of poetry in English gets translated, so they read in the original.’
      • ‘Alongside a burgeoning market for Greek and Latin texts in the original, translations became popular as well.’
      • ‘In any case, all medievalists know the story, whether in the original or only in translation.’
      • ‘Sevan's translation, while attempting to be faithful to the original, is sensitive to modern usage.’
      • ‘Thus, for the translator, there is a perpetual debt to both the original and the translation.’
      • ‘I have never been more amazed by a work in my life. Fagles' translation captures a lot of the feel of the original.’
      • ‘Where necessary, I have modified translations to make them more faithful to the original.’
      archetype, prototype, source, master, paradigm, model, pattern, standard
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    2. 1.2the original of A person or place on which a character or location in a literary work is based.
      ‘the paper where the original of the play's Walter Burns worked’
      • ‘Elizabeth Gaskell was brought up by her aunt in Knutsford, Cheshire (the original of ‘Cranford’ and of ‘Hollingford’ in Wives and Daughters).’
      • ‘Lots of women claimed to have been the original of Holly Golightly.’
      • ‘Smith later acknowledged that ‘In Villette my mother was the original of Mrs Bretton, several of her expressions are given verbatim’.’
    3. 1.3 A book or recording that has not been previously made available in a different form.
      ‘paperback originals’
      • ‘The result is familiar to any reader of pulp fiction or paperback originals.’
      • ‘These books are not originals, so there are no rights issues to deal with, and even if they are sold at a 90% discount there's still room for profit.’
      • ‘The India Penguin paperback originals and the HarperCollins-Rupa paperbacks are wonderful to behold.’
      • ‘As far as ‘pornography’ was concerned, the most obvious targets were the publishers of the paperback originals who had come into being since the end of the war.’
      • ‘Miss Smith has had a novel published as a paperback original.’
    4. 1.4 A garment made to order from a design specially prepared for a fashion collection.
      • ‘His latest fashions are often originals from English designer Vivienne Westwood.’
      • ‘I did this interview for a U.K. TV Show on Channel 4 a while back and they had this other bloke that would buy stuff like Jordan 1 originals with holes in the soles.’
      • ‘The exhibit also displayed many other of Coco Chanel's signature originals such as these Chanel tweed suits and various gowns and jewelry.’
      • ‘They should be honest that they are in fact selling replicas and not hinting that the handbags are originals with deep discounts.’
      • ‘He was decked out in a classic Bond-like suit, a Versace original.’
      • ‘Create your own fashion originals by freely draping fabric directly on the dress form.’
      • ‘It was a Dior original, according to the label under it.’
      • ‘Alongside a few hand-chosen vintage pieces, her own designs are an eclectic mix of recycled items and originals.’
      • ‘Hank didn't really want to look very closely at the stain decorating the front of her designer original.’
      • ‘‘In fact, they are not replicas at all but originals designed for the local market but with a designer label included because otherwise they would not sell,’ Dr Laurie said.’
  • 2An eccentric or unusual person.

    ‘he was one of the true originals’
    • ‘Howard Hughes was one of the true twentieth-century originals - a risk-taker who wanted to own the skies and nearly killed himself trying to do it.’
    • ‘This is not their first Jazz Fest appearance, and will most certainly not be their last, but if you get a chance, come check out a band of true Montreal originals.’
    • ‘New York playwright Will Eno is an original, a maverick wordsmith whose weird, wry dramas gurgle with the grim humour and pain of life.’
    • ‘Call me selfish, but I wanted to leave my mark on a true original.’
    • ‘Marlena Shaw is described as a true original and one of the most charismatic and versatile vocalists on the scene today.’
    • ‘They were true originals on this late 1983 release, more weird and as depressingly great as ever, with two drummers and Mark E Smith in top form.’
    • ‘Simply by being alive, by being brought up in south London and having mixed parentage, he was an original.’
    • ‘Even rock fans have been amazed by The Decemberists' rapid progression from likeable imitators to true originals.’
    • ‘He's a true original, and there aren't many of those around.’
    • ‘Bjork, rock's only true original, needn't cast worried glances over her shoulder just yet.’
    • ‘But the Gordon's didn't follow anyone else's lead, they were true originals, ahead of their time.’
    • ‘Both of them were eccentric originals, portending the radical pluralism that overtook the art world in the next generation.’
    • ‘True originals, Cave, Waits and Cohen create worlds of tenderness and torture, and when you put on one of their records, they own you.’
    • ‘The Germans were true originals, wearing Tyrolean costumes and playing retro jazz on brass instruments.’
    • ‘Roy is a true original, a barbarian living in a modern world, and relentlessly smashing everything in his path.’
    • ‘A true original, Juice Aleem grew up in Birmingham, first in the inner city and then out in the suburbs.’
    • ‘Ken Whiteley is a true Canadian original, who has had a love affair with music for as long as he can remember.’
    • ‘Jonathan Richman is a songwriter without compare, a true original in a sea of troubadour imitatees.’
    • ‘In today's corporate spoon fed copy cat bands QOTSA stand out as true originals.’
    • ‘He remains one of the busiest men in the industry, a true original who has always done things his way.’
    individualist, individual, eccentric, nonconformist, free spirit, bohemian, rare bird, maverick, oddity
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Middle English (the earliest use being in the phrase original sin): from Old French, or from Latin originalis, from origin- (see origin).