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[sam-puh l, sahm-] /ˈsæm pəl, ˈsɑm-/
a small part of anything or one of a number, intended to show the quality, style, or nature of the whole; specimen.
Statistics. a subset of a population:
to study a sample of the total population.
a sound of short duration, as a musical tone or a drumbeat, digitally stored in a synthesizer for playback.
serving as a specimen:
a sample piece of cloth.
verb (used with object), sampled, sampling.
to take a sample or samples of; test or judge by a sample.
Origin of sample
1250-1300; Middle English < Old French essample. See example
Related forms
intersample, noun, adjective, verb (used with object), intersampled, intersampling.
missample, verb, missampled, missampling.
resample, verb (used with object), resampled, resampling.
1. See example. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sample
  • That's a huge sample size for usability testing, so the distributed model makes sense.
  • The sample should be collected during the acute phase of the infection, which is the period in which you are having diarrhea.
  • These should be fairly quick to write and will become the sample chapters for your final proposal.
  • In music, think of the legal actions taken against artists who blend and sample multiple songs.
  • The demographics within a plot reflect a random sample of the region as a whole, the theory says.
  • My mission was to sample as much sugar as my stomach and allowance allowed.
  • Now it's easy to sample this intriguing cuisine at home.
  • The mission could also pave the way for future sample return missions and for landing humans on an asteroid.
  • If the number of cells in a culture changes after a sample is added, that suggests the chemical in question is bad for the liver.
  • The investigators are continuing the research and the size of the sample will increase with time.
British Dictionary definitions for sample


  1. a small part of anything, intended as representative of the whole; specimen
  2. (as modifier): a sample bottle
(statistics) Also called sampling
  1. a set of individuals or items selected from a population for analysis to yield estimates of, or to test hypotheses about, parameters of the whole population. A biased sample is one in which the items selected share some property which influences their distribution, while a random sample is devised to avoid any such interference so that its distribution is affected only by, and so can be held to represent, that of the whole population See also matched sample
  2. (as modifier): sample distribution
(transitive) to take a sample or samples of
  1. to take a short extract from (one record) and mix it into a different backing track
  2. to record (a sound) and feed it into a computerized synthesizer so that it can be reproduced at any pitch
Word Origin
C13: from Old French essample, from Latin exemplumexample
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sample

c.1300, "something which confirms a proposition or statement," from Anglo-French saumple, a shortening of Old French essample, from Latin exemplum "a sample" (see example). Meaning "small quantity (of something) from which the general quality (of the whole) may be inferred" (usually in a commercial sense) is recorded from early 15c.; sense of "specimen for scientific sampling" is from 1878. As an adjective from 1820.


"to test by taking a sample," 1767, from sample (n.). Earlier "to be a match for" (1590s). Related: Sampled; sampling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sample in Culture

sample definition

In statistics, a group drawn from a larger population and used to estimate the characteristics of the whole population.

Note: Opinion polls use small groups of people, often selected at random, as a sample of the opinions of the general public.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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sample in Technology

digital signal processing
The result of measuring the amplitude of an analog signal at a specified time. In digital signal processing a sample is a signed or unsigned number and the number of samples per second is called the sample rate.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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