Definition of prototype in US English:



  • 1A first, typical or preliminary model of something, especially a machine, from which other forms are developed or copied.

    ‘the firm is testing a prototype of the weapon’
    ‘the prototype of all careerists is Judas’
    • ‘The note in question is a Japanese 1,000 yen bill that was probably a prototype of a new high-tech banknote.’
    • ‘Since then, he and two graduate students have revamped the prototype, improving its range and sensitivity.’
    • ‘Do you have a prototype, sample or demonstration of an implementation of the idea?’
    • ‘Flight trials of the prototypes were successfully completed by 1997, and the aircraft entered production in 1998.’
    • ‘Future skin prototypes likely will have a higher density of sensors on the skin, which will provide the robots with even greater dexterity.’
    • ‘Thanks to advances in computing, materials, and robotics, several startups have developed flying car prototypes.’
    • ‘One big drawback: the prototype emission control device they tested cost thousands of dollars.’
    • ‘This device, at the prototype stage, is expected to cost $20 and act as a Web access device.’
    • ‘It's only a prototype, but some researchers imagine the water-skimming robot could have many uses.’
    • ‘We built the prototype almost entirely of off-the-shelf components, reducing cost and speeding development.’
    • ‘The demo shows off how well their prototypes can do this.’
    • ‘The prototype device for dolphins will be tested by one of the two Scottish trawlers fishing for sea bass in the Channel this month.’
    • ‘The rest of the team is still being assembled, and a prototype has yet to be made.’
    • ‘Ferguson's team has developed a prototype of the device and hopes it will be available within 18 months.’
    • ‘By late 1937 he had designed, built and successfully tested both a semiauto rifle and a prototype light machine gun.’
    • ‘The prototype vehicles were tested, modified and the process repeated as necessary.’
    • ‘To date the ability to view a vehicle down to the finest detail has only been possible by physically building a prototype, a long and costly process.’
    • ‘Now it's doing so in two places: A second version of the prototype just opened in Chestnut Hill, Mass.’
    • ‘Technical product feasibility in terms of storage density, performance and reliability was demonstrated in recent experiments using the prototype on display.’
    • ‘The prototype is fitted with an array of computer sensors, web cameras, manoeuvreable surfaces and a new battery pack design, as well as a tiny parachute.’
    1. 1.1 The archetypal example of a class of living organisms, astronomical objects, or other items.
      ‘these objects are the prototypes of a category of rapidly spinning neutron stars’
      • ‘The legacy of these popular icons was traced in non-Orthodox works executed in Italy and northern Europe through paintings said to be modeled on these Byzantine prototypes.’
      • ‘This festival, celebrated in California and in New England, is modeled after an Azorean prototype.’
      • ‘There are various explanatory reasons, so obvious in hindsight that their suppression must be regarded as an original prototype of political correctness.’
      • ‘Marble portrait statues, with body types modelled on Greek prototypes, are well represented.’
      • ‘The Great Northern Railway, for example, chose the rustic Swiss alpine lodge as a prototype for its hotels and depots.’
      • ‘Built using prototypes designed for sunny Mediterranean climes, the houses became traps for dampness.’
      • ‘However, he always failed to mention that the techniques, colors, and perfect execution of the nineteenth-century examples easily distinguish them from their antique prototypes.’
      • ‘This model bill became the prototype for most laws passed in America, although few states cast their net as widely as Laughlin advised.’
      • ‘Lightweight and consequently easily portable, the Vail-type chair was the prototype for numerous later examples in which the seat folded up against the back.’
      • ‘In both cases the risen Jesus Christ is the prototype and model for the essential transformation of spirit-bearing human beings.’
      • ‘The earliest known prototypes of the dictionary were West Asian bilingual word lists of the second millennium BC.’
      • ‘New Amsterdam's incorporation as a municipality in 1653 accelerated its transformation into a city consciously modeled on Dutch prototypes.’
      • ‘The Gaelscoil building will be a pilot project to the latest specifications with the eventual design to be used as a prototype for the design of schools of its size nationally.’
      • ‘Cities like Istanbul and Baghdad present a prototype of the concentric design.’
      • ‘The earlier, topic-based discussion attempts to establish a taxonomy of structural prototypes and gestural categories, from which follow readings of a group of works.’
      • ‘Quentell's designs later became prototypes for subsequent editions.’
      • ‘Meanwhile several monasteries were built in Kent, their churches closely modelled on Roman prototypes.’
      • ‘Also, the imposing grandeur of classical architecture, especially buildings based on prototypes from imperial Rome, suited the nationalist temper of the times.’
      • ‘Following German prototypes, American designs became radically simplified, and the severity of the geometric designs necessitated the precision of machine manufacture.’
      original, first example, first model, master, mould, template, framework, mock-up, pattern, type
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Electronics A basic filter network with specified cutoff frequencies, from which other networks may be derived to obtain sharper cutoffs, constancy of characteristic impedance with frequency, etc.


[with object]
  • Make a prototype of (a product).

    • ‘It will be prototyped on two Navy ships in 2001 and 2002.’
    • ‘If we select a worthy corporate attendee, we will provide a no-charge day of advisory services to help them create an action plan for rolling forward with what has thus far been prototyped in the six weeks of virtual workshop.’
    • ‘Its Pittsburgh lab has already prototyped this approach, which should pack in at least 200 gigabits per square inch within the next two years.’
    • ‘Revamp the research and development and science and technology processes so revolutionary materiel solutions can be prototyped rapidly without the cumbersome bureaucratic headaches that exist in today's Army.’
    • ‘For instance, prior to prototyping an engine design, engineers will model key components and digitally simulate their performance.’
    • ‘Next game, we will focus more on prototyping gameplay earlier and worrying less about the graphics since we are now confident we can do a good job of it.’
    • ‘The latter includes maintaining a development web site on which user interface changes can be prototyped, tested, and perfected before introducing changes to the production web site.’
    • ‘By May of 1998, we got a budget from our bank and went full time prototyping a demo and enhancing the engine.’
    • ‘He and his son Michael have worked on it and prototyped it on a fifteen foot model.’
    • ‘We are exploring the technology and prototyping the radio systems we are inventing.’
    • ‘A word of caution is necessary with regard to prototyping - prototyping everything that is unknown or fuzzy can be impossible or prohibitively expensive.’
    • ‘They've prototyped a watch-sized computer capable of directing you to the nearest waterhole.’
    • ‘This high-speed liquid photopolymer is a good, all-purpose material for prototyping interior automotive parts.’
    • ‘The irregular sculptural shade was first prototyped using deformed packing paper cups, stapled together.’
    • ‘The robot could go in first rather than the soldier, so we prototyped a small number and got them over there.’
    • ‘Sure they have their place and are fantastic for prototyping a site, but we prefer to hand-code our final drafts in a plain text editor.’
    • ‘Whilst this engine could be used as the underlying basis of any number of core products once it was completed, the period until it was prototyped, trailed and put into operation would all count as development.’
    • ‘Once a new design has been prototyped, a sales call is made.’
    • ‘But perhaps the most terrifying secret weapon - take note, competitors - lies in this project, which is being prototyped in public.’
    • ‘The very discovery of the website on which the futures exchange was prototyped seemed to have caught its inventors flat-footed and their masters by surprise.’


Late 16th century (denoting the original of which something else is a copy or derivative): via French or late Latin from Greek prōtotupos (see proto-, type).