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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.
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British Dictionary definitions for epithetic

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
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Word Origin and History for epithetic

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
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Encyclopedia Article for epithetic

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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