epithet


epithet
/ep"euh thet'/, n.
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.
[1570-80; < L epitheton epithet, adjective < Gk epítheton epithet, something added, equiv. to epi- EPI- + the- (var. s. of tithénai to put) + -ton neut. verbid suffix]
Syn. 1, 2. nickname, sobriquet, designation, appellation. 3. curse, insult, abuse, expletive, obscenity.

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      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 told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Epithet — Ep i*thet, n. [L. epitheton, Gr. ?, fr. ? added, fr. ? to add; epi upon, to + ? to put, place: cf. F. [ e]pith[ e]te. See {Do}.] 1. An adjective expressing some quality, attribute, or relation, that is properly or specially appropriate to a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • epithet — An epithet is an adjective indicating some quality or attribute (good or bad) which the speaker or writer (or the verdict of history) regards as characteristic of a person or thing, eg Charles the Bold, Ethelred the Unready, Philip the Good,… …   Modern English usage

  • Epithet — Ep i*thet, v. t. To describe by an epithet. [R.] [1913 Webster] Never was a town better epitheted. Sir H. Wotton …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • epithet — index blasphemy, call (title), term (expression) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • epithet — 1570s, descriptive name for a person or thing, from M.Fr. épithète or directly from L. epitheton, from Gk. epitheton something added, adjective often used as noun, from neut. of epithetos attributed, added, from epitithenai to add on, from epi in …   Etymology dictionary

  • epithet — [n] nickname appellation, description, designation, name, sobriquet, tag, title; concept 683 …   New thesaurus

  • epithet — ► NOUN ▪ a word or phrase expressing a quality or attribute of the person or thing mentioned. ORIGIN Greek epitheton, from epitithenai add …   English terms dictionary

  • epithet — [ep′ə thet΄, ep′əthət] n. [L epitheton < Gr, lit., that which is added < epitithenai, to put on, add < epi , on + tithenai, to put, DO1] 1. an adjective, noun, or phrase, often specif. a disparaging one, used to characterize some person… …   English World dictionary

  • Epithet — An epithet (from Greek ἐπίθετον epitheton , neut. of ἐπίθετος epithetos , attributed, added [ [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2339438 Epithetos, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek… …   Wikipedia

  • epithet —  strictly speaking, describes a word or phrase that is used in place of a name. Calling Tarzan King of the Jungle is to employ an epithet. More commonly nowadays, however, epithet is used to describe an abusive or contemptuous utterance. A few… …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors


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