When epic began to be used as an adjective in English it was in specific reference to the characteristics of the type of poem that bears the same name. A couple of centuries passed, and the word’s meaning came to describe other kinds of works, aside from poetry, which had similarly grand characteristics. More recently, epic has been found used in a highly colloquial fashion, in a manner that is largely synonymous with outstanding, fabulous, or impressive. Before you pass judgment on whether this new sense of epic is acceptable to you or not, you might want to consider that all the words that this sense is synonymous with have also changed their meanings dramatically: outstanding originally described something that projected or stuck out, fabulous had to do with fables, and impressive used to mean “capable of being impressed.”
Homer's ancient Greek epic “The Odyssey”. Adjective
The football game was an epic battle between two great teams.
The bridge was an epic achievement.
The company is engaged in an epic struggle for survival.
an accomplishment of epic proportions
Recent Examples on the Web
Both are worth visiting, but especially the epic (and far cooler temperature-wise) Carlsbad.—Geoffrey Morrison, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Fisher has a part in Snyder’s sci-fi epic for Netflix, Rebel Moon.—Vulture, 29 Nov. 2023 Samuel’s reimagined take on Hollywood’s classic Biblical epics stars LaKeith Stansfield as the streetwise Clarence, a man who is struggling to make a better life for himself and his family.—Gail Mitchell, Billboard, 28 Nov. 2023 In a surprise twist, Ridley Scott’s new historical epic Napoleon is in a close race with Wish for No. 2.—Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Nov. 2023 Even with its lengthy two-hour and 38-minute runtime, Scott’s epic is significantly shorter than Scorsese’s latest, which clocks in at a daunting three hours and 26 minutes.—Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 21 Nov. 2023 The sci-fi epic will arrive in select theaters for one week only beginning Dec. 15, before it is released for streaming on Netflix on Dec. 22.—Althea Legaspi, Rolling Stone, 13 Nov. 2023 The song, which comes in at just under eight minutes, is among several rock epics on the new release (out on Butterfly Records and Big Machine).—Sadie Bell, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 After following their adorable relationship through the three films, make sure to binge XO, Kitty, too—the spin-off series in which the titular younger sibling steps out of Lara Jean’s shadow and heads to Seoul for a coming-of-age epic that’s all her own.—Radhika Seth, Vogue, 3 Nov. 2023
Online, Swifties celebrated another link-up of epic proportions: Swift and Beyoncé’s respective publicists.—Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 30 Nov. 2023 Jimmy Carter, 99, is paying homage to his and Rosalynn Carter's epic love story in the most touching way.—Stephanie Sengwe, Peoplemag, 28 Nov. 2023 Nordstrom: The Nordstrom Cyber Monday sale is epic.—Jenny Berg, Vogue, 27 Nov. 2023 Boy Smells is back with another epic Cyber Monday sale.—Sarah Hoffmann, Allure, 27 Nov. 2023 The Bob Dylan thing was such an epic surprise to me.—Daniel Kohn, SPIN, 23 Nov. 2023 An epic novel follows three generations of a family in southern India from 1900 through 1977.—The California Independent Booksellers Alliance, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 The combination of Long Beach State’s epic road win and SDSU’s convincing performance against the WCC preseason favorite (ahead of Gonzaga) shot the Aztecs from 31 to 15 in the Kenpom.com metric, well inside NCAA at-large berth territory.—Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Nov. 2023 Yet the series remains authentic to the core of O’Malley’s epic creation.—Michael Cavna, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'epic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Latin epicus, from Greek epikos, from epos word, speech, poem — more at voice