Definition of original in English:


Line breaks: ori|gin¦al
Pronunciation: /əˈrɪdʒɪn(ə)l
, ɒ-/



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  • 1The earliest form of something, from which copies may be made: the portrait may be a copy of the original one set of originals and four photocopies
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    • 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 language in which something was first written: the study of Russian texts in the original
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    • 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.
  • 1.2 (the original of) A person or place on which a character or location in a literary work is based: the house is reputed to be the original of Mansfield Park
    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
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    • 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: the designer has donated one of her amazing originals, a frothy pink evening dress
    More 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.


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

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkɒlərəˈtjʊərə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody