exemplum

exemplum

[ig-zem-pluhm]
noun, plural exempla [ig-zem-pluh] .
1.
an example or model.
2.
an anecdote that illustrates or supports a moral point, as in a medieval sermon.

Origin:
1885–90; < Late Latin, Latin: literally, a pattern, model, copy

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exemplum (ɪɡˈzɛmpləm)
 
n , pl -pla
1.  an anecdote that supports a moral point or sustains an argument, used esp in medieval sermons
2.  an example or illustration
 
[from Latin: example]

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exemplum

short tale originally incorporated by a medieval preacher into his sermon to emphasize a moral or illustrate a point of doctrine. Fables, folktales, and legends were gathered into collections, such as Exempla (c. 1200) by Jacques de Vitry, for the use of preachers. Such exempla often provided the germ or plot for medieval secular tales in verse or prose. The influence of exempla can be seen in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) in the haunting "The Pardoner's Tale."

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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