A sample is a small part of something that either represents a bigger whole or is designed to let you try something out. You might ask to try a sample of an exotic ice cream flavor before committing to buying a whole cone.

Sample comes from the Old French essample, meaning "example." In social science experiments, researchers try to find a sample of people to study that is representative of the intended population as a whole. At the grocery store, you might be given a sample of peanut butter on a little cracker to entice you to buy it. In that case, you are given the chance to sample, or taste, the product.

Definitions of sample

n a small part of something intended as representative of the whole

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a test sample of some substance
cross section
a sample meant to be representative of a whole population
grab sample
a single sample or measurement taken at a specific time or over as short a period as feasible
random sample
a sample grabbed at random
a small amount (especially of food or wine)
Type of:
example, illustration, instance, representative
an item of information that is typical of a class or group

n all or part of a natural object that is collected and preserved as an example of its class

a bit of tissue or blood or urine that is taken for diagnostic purposes
a cylindrical sample of soil or rock obtained with a hollow drill
cytologic specimen
a specimen used for cytologic examination and diagnosis
Type of:
natural object
an object occurring naturally; not made by man

n items selected at random from a population and used to test hypotheses about the population

sample distribution, sampling
acceptance sampling
a statistical procedure for accepting or rejecting a batch of merchandise or documents; involves determining the maximum number of defects discovered in a sample before the entire batch is rejected
random sample
a sample in which every element in the population has an equal chance of being selected
proportional sample, representative sample, stratified sample
the population is divided into strata and a random sample is taken from each stratum
Type of:
distribution, statistical distribution
(statistics) an arrangement of values of a variable showing their observed or theoretical frequency of occurrence

v take a sample of

Sample the regional dishes”
taste, try, try out
taste with relish
Type of:
consume, have, ingest, take, take in
serve oneself to, or consume regularly

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