- a statement, pattern of behavior, or prototype (model) which other statements, patterns of behavior, and objects copy or emulate. (Frequently used informal synonyms for this usage include “standard example”, “basic example”, and the longer form “archetypal example”. Mathematical archetypes often appear as “canonical examples”.)
- a Platonic philosophical idea referring to pure forms which embody the fundamental characteristics of a thing in Platonism
- a collectively-inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., that is universally present, in individual psyches, as in Jungian psychology
- a constantly recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting, or mythology (this usage of the term draws from both comparative anthropology and from Jungian archetypal theory). In various seemingly unrelated cases in classic storytelling, media, etc., characters or ideas sharing similar traits recur.