follow Dictionary.com

11 Trending Words of 2014

epithet

[ep-uh-thet] /ˈɛp əˌθɛt/
noun
1.
any word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality:
“Richard the Lion-Hearted” is an epithet of Richard I.
2.
a characterizing word or phrase firmly associated with a person or thing and often used in place of an actual name, title, or the like, as “man's best friend” for “dog.”.
3.
a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc.
Origin
1570-1580
1570-80; < Latin epitheton epithet, adjective < Greek epítheton epithet, something added, equivalent to epi- epi- + the- (variant stem of tithénai to put) + -ton neuter verbid suffix
Related forms
epithetic, epithetical, adjective
Can be confused
epigram, epigraph, epitaph, epithet.
Synonyms
1, 2. nickname, sobriquet, designation, appellation. 3. curse, insult, abuse, expletive, obscenity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for epithet
  • The epithet"pretty boy" has haunted him all his life.
  • Mr Allen denies calling anyone an epithet.
  • At the same time, the term geek began to morph from epithet to honorific.
  • That epithet applies also to her blind — and blinding — ambition.
  • Strictly speaking, an epithet is not necessarily derogatory.
  • She earned this epithet fairly and early.
  • The term was originally an epithet applied to the storm god Hadad.
  • That all-purpose epithet is becoming quite tiresome.
  • But some words that fail to meet these criteria have always escaped the epithet.
  • They wore the epithet of radical as a badge of honor.
British Dictionary definitions for epithet

epithet

/ˈɛpɪˌθɛt/
noun
1.
a descriptive word or phrase added to or substituted for a person's name: "Lackland" is an epithet for King John
Derived Forms
epithetic, epithetical, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin epitheton, from Greek, from epitithenai to add, from tithenai to put
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for epithet
n.

1570s, "descriptive name for a person or thing," from Middle French épithète or directly from Latin epitheton, from Greek epitheton "something added," adjective often used as noun, from neuter of epithetos "attributed, added," from epitithenai "to add on," from epi "in addition" (see epi-) + tithenai "to put" (see factitious).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for epithet

an adjective or phrase that is used to express the characteristic of a person or thing, such as Ivan the Terrible. In literature, the term is considered an element of poetic diction, or something that distinguishes the language of poetry from ordinary language. Homer used certain epithets so regularly that they became a standard part of the name of the thing or person described, as in "rosy-fingered Dawn" and "gray-eyed Athena." The device was used by many later poets, including John Keats in his sonnet "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer": Oft of one wide expanse had I been toldThat deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne.

Learn more about epithet with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for epithet

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for epithet

12
12
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with epithet