Definition of original in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈrijənl/


1Present or existing from the beginning; first or earliest: the original owner of the house the plasterwork is probably original
More example sentences
  • The original design provided for the restoration of existing courtrooms.
  • In North America alone, there are many aboriginal cultures that no longer know a word of their original languages.
  • The final design will maintain these original features.
indigenous, native, aboriginal, autochthonous;
first, earliest, early
2Created directly and personally by a particular artist; not a copy or imitation: original Rembrandts playing original material
More example sentences
  • The multimedia production also included an original score by artist-musician Rodney Graham and rock duo Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.
  • He gave me about 20 minutes to respond to an emailed copy of the original article.
  • Fortunately his family made some copies of the original manuscript and so we can see now what he really wrote.
first, earliest;
untouched, unedited, uncut
authentic, genuine, actual, true, bona fide
informal kosher
3Not dependent on other people’s ideas; inventive and unusual: a subtle and original thinker
More example sentences
  • Freud certainly had many original ideas; but even the most inventive minds are indebted to their predecessors.
  • The contest is open to all original bands and musicians - whatever the musical style.
  • Erofeyev is an absurdly original writer of the utmost importance.
innovative, creative, imaginative, inventive;
new, novel, fresh, refreshing;
unusual, unconventional, unorthodox, groundbreaking, pioneering, avant-garde, cutting-edge, unique, distinctive


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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • He agreed to copy the documents inside, then burn the original papers he had received, which were also copies, not originals.
1.1 (the original) The form or language in which something was first produced or created: the study of Russian texts in the original
More example sentences
  • In Norway not a lot of poetry in English gets translated, so they read in the original.
  • This would offer the student the full iconic content of the original as well as the French text.
  • Cathal writes in Irish but read the translations in English as well as the original in Irish.
archetype, prototype, source, master
1.2 (the 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
More example sentences
  • Smith later acknowledged that ‘In Villette my mother was the original of Mrs Bretton, several of her expressions are given verbatim’.
  • 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.
1.3A book or recording that has not been previously made available in a different form: paperback originals
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Miss Smith has had a novel published as a paperback original.
  • 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.
1.4A garment made to order from a design specially prepared for a fashion collection.
Example sentences
  • The exhibit also displayed many other of Coco Chanel's signature originals such as these Chanel tweed suits and various gowns and jewelry.
  • His latest fashions are often originals from English designer Vivienne Westwood.
  • Alongside a few hand-chosen vintage pieces, her own designs are an eclectic mix of recycled items and originals.
2An eccentric or unusual person: he was one of the true originals
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • New York playwright Will Eno is an original, a maverick wordsmith whose weird, wry dramas gurgle with the grim humour and pain of life.
individualist, individual, eccentric, nonconformist, free spirit, maverick
informal character, oddball


Middle English (the earliest use being in the phrase original sin): from Old French, or from Latin originalis, from origin- (see origin).

  • Orient from Late Middle English:

    Since the Middle Ages the countries of the East have been referred to as the Orient—the first recorded use of the term appears in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The name goes back to Latin oriri ‘to rise’, also the source of original (Late Middle English) and refers to the rising of the sun. The opposite is Occident, a name for the countries of the West which comes from Latin occidere ‘to go down, set’, and refers to the setting of the sun. The English football club Orient (later known as Clapton Orient, and now as Leyton Orient) was founded in 1881. The name was suggested by a player who worked for the Orient shipping line, and was appropriate, as the club is based in the East End of London. Disorient (mid 17th century) was originally ‘to turn from the east’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: o·rig·i·nal

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