Archetype Definition


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What is an archetype?

Where did this word come from?

Is the archetype definition the same across the board, or are there several ways to use this word?

The word “archetype” is used in psychological, spiritual, and literary circles. It was coined by Carl Jung, who helped to identify different archetypes of the human conscious and subconscious.

In order to understand the definition of archetype, it’s important to know what it’s similar to as well as what it isn’t.

  • Synonyms include: form, model, pattern, ideal
  • Antonyms include: descendent, imitation, copy, replica

Archetypes can be simple enough to comprehend with enough study devoted to them. This all sounds confusing, however, to many people who hear about the concept for the first time.

In this article, you’ll learn how to define the word “archetype” and how you can use it across different parts of your life. This information can help you understand yourself and your relationship to society as a whole.

Read on to learn about the archetype English definition and how this term is meant to be used.

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Define: Archetype

When you’re looking for a definition archetype can be a tough word to understand. There are many different uses of this word, and they span a variety of different fields, too. However, when you take time to break down the meaning of “archetype” across all of these, you can come to a better understanding of yourself, others, and the world around you. Get a head start on this by reading through the information below:

What is an archetype with relation to the self?


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  • Carl Jung was the psychiatrist who first penned the concept of the archetype from a psychological standpoint. He stated that archetypes are used to express a person’s Self, and that all human archetypes stem from the collective unconscious. There are four main archetypes within the Jungian school of thought:
    • The Self is the archetype that combines a person’s unconscious and conscious. It is the whole psyche of an individual, and it makes up a person’s personality.
    • The Shadow is the archetype that focuses on unconscious desires, and it is also responsible for weakness and flaws in an individual. Anything about a person that is generally not accepted by society falls into this archetype.
    • The Persona is the archetype that includes an individual’s outward presentation. The way a person appears to others is a part of this archetype. Many people have different Personas depending on the other people they’re with at any given time; different social interactions require different actions or responses, and so people create multiple masks to hide the Self when this occurs.
    • The Anima is a female archetype within a male psyche, and the Animus is a male archetype within a female psyche. It helps to create balance within an individual and is related to the true Self, rather than to the Persona or Shadow of a person. When individuals openly accept both masculine and feminine energies and traits within themselves, they can be more fulfilled and can have better access to the collective unconscious as well.

What is an archetype in terms of behavior or spirituality?


  • Carl Jung was also responsible for coming up with Jungian archetypes, which are often used in spiritual circumstances to describe an individual’s behavior or personality. He believed that all humans can fit into at least one of these archetypes, and that they all stem from the collective unconscious. These archetypes include the following:
    • The father, a figure of authority
    • The mother, a figure of comfort
    • The child, a figure who wants to be saved or wants to remain innocent
    • The old man, a figure who guides and helps others (the crone is the feminine equivalent of this archetype)
    • The maiden, a figure who is pure
    • The hero, a figure who rescues or defends
    • The trickster, a figure who causes trouble and spreads chaos
  • This version of the concept of archetypes is used in literary analysis to better understand characters with relation to their personality and drive.
  • This is also used by marketing companies to strategize their advertising and focus on target audiences. Marketing-specific archetypes include:
    • Sage
    • Innocent
    • Ruler
    • Explorer
    • Creator
    • Magician
    • Caregiver
    • Outlaw
    • Hero
    • Lover
    • Jester
    • Regular Person

How can an archetype define us as people?


  • One of the most important ways archetypes may be used to define us as individuals is simply by allowing us to remain individual. Although Jungian theory states there is a collective unconscious, where all of our traits and personalities come from, it also specifies the need for a person to have their own sense of self.
  • Archetypes may also be used to help explore an individual’s spiritual side and delve deeper into this aspect of their personality and self. Some people practice meditation to speak with their archetypes and discover more about themselves through the process. Although this type of spirituality may not be for everyone, it can help enlighten a person to their own inner thoughts, fears, desires, personality traits and much more.

Does everyone have at least one archetype?

  • Yes—through the Jungian model, everyone has their four archetypes of the Self as well as at least one archetype related to the collective unconscious. In other words, when you look inwardly, you can find all four main archetypes: the Self, the Shadow, the Persona, and the Anima or Animus. Everyone else can, too.
  • When you think about how you fit into society and humanity and try to label your role with regard to your personality and behavior, this is where you can find your other archetype or archetypes. Some may be a Child type, while others may be a Hero type, for example.
  • Some people may fit into more than one category at the same time. They may be a Mother and a Hero, for example.
  • Others may change over time. They may progress through live in a chronological fashion, from Child to Father to Old Man.
  • Finally, although the twelve market-based archetypes are used for advertising more than anything else, they can still help you determine where you fit into society, and they may be worth exploring.


With this thorough archetype def to help you better understand this term and its relationship to you, it may be of interested for you to dig deeper into the origins of the idea. Don’t be afraid to do some research on Carl Jung and take time to learn more about what he had to say. Even though the information dates back to the early 1900s, it can still pertain to humanity and life today.

Now that you know how to define archetype, you can spend some more time focusing on discovering yours as well. Whether you want to stick to the more psychological aspect of the concept and learn which Jungian archetype you fit into, or you want to spend some time in meditation and learn to speak to and hear from your archetype guides, you’re sure to enjoy your experience as you study and learn about archetypes.

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