Definition: Prototype

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From French prototype or Late Latin prototypon, from Ancient Greek πρωτότυπος or prōtótupos (original; prototype), from πρωτο- or prōto- (prefix meaning "first") (from πρῶτος or prôtos )first; earliest))) + τῠ́πος or túpos (blow, pressing; sort, type) (from τύπτω or túptō (to beat, strike)), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)tewp- (to push; to stick)). The word is analysable as proto- + -type.


prototype (plural prototypes)

  1. An original form or object which is a basis for other forms or objects (particularly manufactured items), or for its generalizations and models.
  2. An early sample or model built to test a concept or process.
    The prototype had loose wires and rough edges, but it worked.
  3. (computing) A declaration of a function that specifies the name, return type, and parameters, but none of the body or actual code.
  4. (semantics) An instance of a category or a concept that combines its most representative attributes.
    A robin is a prototype of a bird; a penguin is not.
  5. (motor racing) A type of race car, a racing sports car not based on a production car. A 4-wheeled cockpit-seating car built especially for racing on sports car circuits, that does not use the silhouette related to a consumer road car.

Derived terms

  • prototypal
  • prototype pattern
  • prototype racing
  • prototype theory
  • prototypic
  • prototypical
  • prototyping


prototype (third-person singular simple present prototypes, present participle prototyping, simple past and past participle prototyped)

  1. To create a prototype of.
    We decided to prototype the video game for testers before the graphics were completed.


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