epithet

[ep-uh-thet]
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:
1570–80; < Latin epitheton epithet, adjective < Greek epítheton epithet, something added, equivalent to epi- epi- + the- (variant stem of tithénai to put) + -ton neuter verbid suffix

epithetic, epithetical, adjective

epigram, epigraph, epitaph, epithet.


1, 2. nickname, sobriquet, designation, appellation. 3. curse, insult, abuse, expletive, obscenity.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
epithet (ˈɛpɪˌθɛt)
 
n
a descriptive word or phrase added to or substituted for a person's name: "Lackland" is an epithet for King John
 
[C16: from Latin epitheton, from Greek, from epitithenai to add, from tithenai to put]
 
epi'thetic
 
adj
 
epi'thetical
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

epithet
1579, "descriptive name for a person or thing," from L. from Gk. epitheton, adj. often used as n., from neut. of epithetos "attributed, added," from epitithenai "to add on," from epi- "in addition" + tithenai "to put," from PIE base *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

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.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
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.
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