Word Origin & History
c.1310, "festival of the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles" (celebrated Jan. 6; usually with a capital -E-), from O.Fr. epiphanie, from L.L. epiphania, neut. pl. (taken as fem. sing.), from Gk. epiphaneia "manifestation, striking appearance" (in N.T., advent or manifestation of Christ), from epiphanes
"manifest, conspicuous," from epiphainein "to manifest, display," from epi- "on, to" + phainein "to show" (see phantasm
). Of divine beings other than Christ, first recorded c.1667; general literary sense appeared 1840, first in De Quincey.