In my vocabulary studies, I seem to constantly catch a snag on the word paragon. The noun is completely second nature to me, but I cannot seem to grasp the usage and definition of its verb counterpart. According to Dictionary.com:
verb. to compare; parallel.
My confusion stems from my inability to track down any usage of it as a verb, almost all examples are using the noun form, reading the phrase paragon of xyz over and over to the point of drivel.
If someone could direct me to examples or explain it to me differently, I’ll thoroughly appreciate it.
In order to understand why to paragon means to compare, you can look at the Italian version of the word (paragone for the noun, paragonare for the verb).
The Italian Vocabolario Treccani says this about the verb:
paragonare v. tr. [dal gr. παρακονάω «sfregare contro, affilare», (…) Saggiare l’oro, sulla pietra di paragone o con altro metodo
to paragon v. tr. [from Greek παρακονάω «rub against, sharpen», (…) Assaying gold, on the touchstone [lit. “paragon stone”] or using another method
Basically, the Italian pietra di paragone is a touchstone. From Wikipedia:
Drawing a line with gold on a touchstone will leave a visible trace. Because different alloys of gold have different colours (see gold) the unknown sample can be compared to samples of known purity.
Therefore, many years ago people used to paragon alleged gold with actual gold, using a touchstone. The actual gold itself became known as a paragon i.e. a reference model, which is now the first definition from the dictionary you cited:
a model or pattern of excellence or of a particular excellence