1. A small object, usually built to scale, that represents in detail another, often larger object.
a. A preliminary work or construction that serves as a plan from which a final product is to be made: a clay model ready for casting.
b. Such a work or construction used in testing or perfecting a final product: a test model of a solar-powered vehicle.
3. A schematic description or representation of something, especially a system or phenomenon, that accounts for its properties and is used to study its characteristics: a model of generative grammar; a model of an atom; an economic model.
4. A style or design of an item: My car is last year's model.
5. One serving as an example to be imitated or compared: a model of decorum. See Synonyms at ideal.
a. One that serves as the subject for an artist, especially a person employed to pose for a painter, sculptor, or photographer.
b. One that serves as the basis for a fictional character or place.
7. A person employed to display merchandise, such as clothing or cosmetics.
8. Zoology An animal whose appearance is copied by a mimic.
1. Being, serving as, or used as a model.
2. Worthy of imitation: a model child.
v. mod·eled, mod·el·ing, mod·els also mod·elled or mod·el·ling
1. To make or construct a descriptive or representational model of: computer programs that model climate change.
2. To plan, construct, or fashion in imitation of a model: modeled his legal career after that of his mentor.
a. To make by shaping a plastic substance: modeled a bust from clay.
b. To form (clay, for example) into a shape.
4. To display by wearing or posing in: model clothes.
5. In painting, drawing, and photography, to give a three-dimensional appearance to, as by shading or highlighting.
a. To exhibit (a behavior) in such a way as to promote the establishment of similar patterns of behavior in another: The therapist modeled socially appropriate conversation.
b. To repeat (a behavior observed in another): The child was modeling her mother's nurturing behavior.
1. To make a model.
2. To work or serve as a model, as in wearing clothes for display or serving as the subject of an artist.
model (oneself) on (or after)
To copy the example of (another); imitate.
[French modèle, from Italian modello, diminutive of modo, form, from Latin modus, measure, standard; see med- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.