Word: paradigm

Pronunciation: PA-rə-dym

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a typical example or pattern of something; a model

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


So I recently attended a scientific conference, and as you can imagine, I came back with quite a few advanced words for my vocabulary list. Since I love words that can apply to both academic and artistic writing, I decided to share some of them in my Word of the Week segment. To start off, here’s a relatively common one that came up in a few of the presentations: “paradigm”. This isn’t surprising, of course; standard models are a necessary foundation for the progression of research!

A “paradigm” is a typical model, example, or pattern of something. The word comes from the Greek noun parádeigma “pattern”, which in turn comes from the verb paradeíknunai, meaning “to compare”. This verb is composed of the preposition pará “beside” and the verb deíknunai “to show”.

Although typically a technical term, “paradigm” can also be used to indicate patterns in everyday life, such as social etiquette. In linguistics, it refers to “a set of linguistic items that form mutually exclusive choices in particular syntactic roles”, while in science it’s “a worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject”. Being an academic, I’ve read this word most often in scientific texts, but I believe it works equally well in fiction. If you want to draw attention to typical patterns or models in the action of your stories, “paradigm” is a good word to keep in mind! Good luck!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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