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Example image example

An example is used as an explanation or evidence for something general or as an exemplary individual case or example . According to Duden, an example is “a typical individual case that can be picked out at will as an explanation for a certain phenomenon or a certain process; Example".


The second word element of game is like in the parish in the late Middle High German Folk etymology of game was ajar. The basic word for this was in Old High German spel for ' tale , speech ', in Old English spell for story, story , speech, saying 'and Old Norse spjall (also' magic spell ') or Gothic spill for' legend , fable '. In non-Germanic , the Greek apeilḗ (ἀπειλή) 'glorious promise , threat ' and in Latvian pelt ' insult , slander, blame' can be compared, so that one can start from a common root (s) pel- 'loudly, emphatically'. In the English language, spell is still used today to denote 'magic word' and gospel ' gospel ' (old English: gōdspel 'gospel', literally 'good news').

The West Germanic compound bīspil , which is composed of bī- ('bei') , 'didactic saying, parable ', Middle High German bīspel , Middle Low German bīspē̌l , bīspil , Middle Dutch bispel, denoting 'history, fable, parable, proverb made up for instruction '; the Old English bīspell 'example, parable' meant ' what was told in passing '. Martin Luther uses example primarily in the sense of 'instructive fact to imitate or to deter.' Under the influence of the Latin exemplum , the meaning of 'example, pattern' developed from the 16th century. Under French influence, the connections are based for example (after par exemple ) and without example (after sans exemple ), for example in the adverb 'for example' at the end of the 17th century and the adjective unprecedented 'unique, not yet there, unheard of' in the second half of the 18th century, and by way of example , exemplary, exemplary 'in the early 20th century.

Rhetorical style figure

According to Gert Ueding , an example (Latin example ) in rhetoric describes a context of evidence and arguments . For Quintilian , the specimen is added to the speech , illustrative evidence, or "the mention of a useful, real or supposedly real process to convince you of what matters to you". However, in contrast to circumstantial evidence, the connection to the subject of the speech must first be established by the author or the speaker. However, it does not have “merely a function of evidence or evidence”, but should “ illuminate an inaccessible, brittle or abstract situation in an insightful, vivid, possibly generally known case ” and thus “also has a decorative, entertaining, so emotionally moving effect” and belongs to the rhetorical figures .

The rhetoric distinguishes three types of examples:

  • The example from present life, from immediate contemporary history . According to Ueding, credibility would be accorded a high value here, "since it comes from a true incident that is generally known or can be proven".
  • The example from history . The historical example would probably be most needed because it is “not only based on truth, but also has authority”. It is - according to Ueding - "also the events that have already been tried and tested through history, confirmed by exemplary historical figures and largely manageable in their effects, that bring the persuasive power of tradition".
  • The poetic example; Its credibility is lower “because it does not have historical truth at all or only in a very mediated sense.” But it could “convey an existential, religious or general spiritual truth” and thus “be more effective, even more credible, in many areas of public speech as the empirically valid fact. ”For example, in Ferdinand Freiligrath's poem Hamlet from 1844, which begins with the line“ Germany is Hamlet ”, the hesitant Hamlet is compared with the political situation in pre-March Germany.


Examples are often given in German using the formulation for example , which is then often followed by z. B. is abbreviated . The correct spelling is with periods and spaces, in Austria the notation without periods and spaces ( e.g. ) is also permitted.

See also


  • Günther Buck : Kant's teaching of the example. In: Archive for Conceptual History 11 (1967), pp. 148–183.
  • Alexander Gelley (Ed.): Unruly Examples. On the Rhetoric of Exemplarity. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA 1995, ISBN 0-8047-2490-3 .
  • Jens Ruchatz, Nicolas Pethes, Stefan Willer (eds.): The example. Epistemology of the Exemplary. Kadmos, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-86599-038-9 .
  • Christian Lück, Michael Niehaus, Peter Risthaus, Manfred Schneider (Eds.): Archive of the example. Preparatory work and considerations. Diaphanes, Zurich-Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-03734-252-7 .
  • Daniel Schäfer : Long-lasting examples. Reflections on the function and design of historical examples for old age in the dietary literature of the early modern period. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 22, 2003, pp. 188-203.

Individual evidence

  1. Example on duden.de, accessed on September 12, 2011
  2. Old English short form. Retrieved April 29, 2017 .
  3. Wolfgang Pfeifer: Etymological Dictionary of German. Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-05-000626-9 . Paperback edition: Unabridged, revised edition, 7th edition. dtv, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-423-32511-9 , online at DWDS
  4. Gert Ueding: Rhetoric of writing. An introduction. Weinheim, 4th edition. 1996, pp. 63-83, online at mediaculture online
  5. Wiktionary entry to z. B. Retrieved June 8, 2017 .
  6. Austrian dictionary . 43rd edition. Österreichischer Bundesverlag Schulbuch GmbH & Co. KG , Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-209-10546-2 , p. 856.

Web links

  • Archive of the example database for researching the use of examples in the knowledge discourses of the modern age.
  • eg magazine for example literature, media and cultural studies online magazine for researching examples and their use.
Wiktionary: Example  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations