I'm not certain what words could best describe my request here.

Let's say the US Government (technically the Federal Reserve) prints new $1 bills. The term that I'm after here isn't the individual $1 bills, but rather the blueprint/design/abstract concept of the $1 bills.

Another example could be coin currency. There's potentially millions of $0.01 pennies created in the year 2000. When saying, "I found a year 2000 penny", the physical penny is one thing (and naming that isn't what I'm after), and the expectation that the penny must be copper-coated with the year 2000 printed on it is another (which is what I'm after).

I'll phrase this from a non-currency perspective: Trading Cards. Let's say Nintendo published 300 Pikachu cards with specific artwork. Before it was printed, there was a mock-up or design of the card, that represents and defines what the cards should be. It is not itself a physical concept, but rather it describes that if a physical object shares the same properties as this "thing", it is then classified as the "thing".

This isn't so abstract that it gets into the "what is a chair?" sort of questioning. In this example, some sort of authority dictated a definition of sorts, and from that definition, physical assets were created that meet that definition, as assured by the authority.

In the vehicle world, I feel like we can use "make and model", but those words have an implied domain: vehicles. I'm looking for terminology that is independent of domain, such that it could apply to coins, trading cards, vehicles, appliances, etc. Any sort of authority within a domain can dictate some sort of definition for something they create.

What's the name for this sort of definition? I feel like the word "definition" itself is too broad. Are there any classification or taxonomical terms here that would work?

  • 2
    Can you create an example sentence? Do you simply mean type? Make and model describe a type of car. Pennies and dollar bills are types of physical currency. Alternatively, a governing body will often create a standard. For example, IEEE 802.11 is a set of standards around WiFi. Standard, however, wouldn't wrap around baseball cards. You have prototype, design, mock-up, and many others, but it's not clear exactly what you're looking for.
    – jimm101
    Oct 18, 2022 at 17:22
  • 1
    Sounds like: technical design concept
    – Lambie
    Oct 18, 2022 at 17:48
  • You talk about a banknote or piece of pottery or bridge being made to a specific design. If you're talking about the defining characteristics that allow you to identify something as an X, that's a different concept and a different word (some elements of a design are significant but not all are). Which is it?
    – Stuart F
    Oct 18, 2022 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Template (Wiktionary)

  1. A physical object whose shape is used as a guide to make other objects.

  2. A generic model or pattern from which other objects are based or derived.

  3. (molecular biology) A macromolecule which provides a pattern for the synthesis of another molecule.

  4. (object-oriented programming) A partially defined class or function, that can be instantiated in a variety of ways depending on the instantiation arguments.

    A template is a blueprint or formula for creating a generic class or a function. “C++ Templates”, in tutorialspoint, 2016

  5. A strip of metal used in boiler-making, pierced with a series of holes, and serving as a guide in marking out a line of rivet-holes.

Other usable words are Archetype and Framework.

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