epic

noun
ep·​ic | \ˈe-pik \

Definition of epic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero the Iliad and the Odyssey are epics

2 : a work of art (such as a novel or drama) that resembles or suggests an epic

3 : a series of events or body of legend or tradition thought to form the proper subject of an epic the epic of the winning of the West

epic

adjective
ep·​ic | \ˈe-pik \

Definition of epic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an epic an epic poem

2a : extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope his genius was epicThe Times Literary Supplement (London)

b : heroic

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Other Words from epic

Adjective

epical \ˈe-​pi-​kəl \ adjective
epically \ˈe-​pi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Does epic mean "impressive" or just "big"?

Noun

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.”

Examples of epic in a Sentence

Noun

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This was an anticlimax that wanted to be an epic—the crowd in Death Valley did its best to rowdy it up, with the on-field noise meter at one point registering a jackhammer-like 110 decibels. Jason Gay, WSJ, "All Hail Our Alabama Football Overlords," 4 Nov. 2018 Though directed by Hell or High Water’s David McKenzie, Outlaw King feels mostly like a made-to-order movie for hungry fans of medieval war epics and maybe Game of Thrones. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Netflix’s Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine as a Scottish warrior-king, is bloody medieval fun," 9 Nov. 2018 Simulate epic climbs at Beaver Creek’s Climbing Wall. Discover Magazine, "7 Family Friendly Bucket List Adventures in Beaver Creek," 17 Aug. 2018 Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic, received eight nominations, while Martin McDonagh’s increasingly controversial Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, received seven. Alex Shephard, New Republic, "The Oscars race is wide open.," 23 Jan. 2018 That’s why the Homer Multitext Project is gathering all of those fragments together so they can be compared and put in sequence to provide a broader view of Homer’s epics. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Oldest Greek Fragment of Homer Discovered on Clay Tablet," 11 July 2018 The moment, which proved epic in more ways than one, occurred during a stop on the singer's tour in Copenhagen, radio station Capital FM points out. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Harry Styles Sang Some of “22” by Taylor Swift During a Concert," 21 Mar. 2018 After winning an epic Game 7 over Indiana on Sunday simply to reach Toronto in the second round, the Cavs were a real underdog Tuesday night. Terry Pluto, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Cavaliers send message by winning epic opener -- Terry Pluto (photos)," 2 May 2018 As Julian Perry Robinson has written in his history of the subject, the earliest example of that idea might possibly be found in ancient Indian epics. Lily Rothman, Time, "A Long, Brutal History of Chemical Weapons Lies Behind Trump's Decision to Order Airstrikes in Syria," 13 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The premise: Chris Pine stars as Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, in a war epic about medieval Scottish nationalism. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Netflix’s Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine as a Scottish warrior-king, is bloody medieval fun," 9 Nov. 2018 These epic journeys, called pre-molt dispersals, are crucial for survival. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Penguins," 6 Nov. 2018 One month after the sprawling epic Red Dead Redemption 2 launched, developer Rockstar expanded the Western even further with Red Dead Online. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Red Dead Online: everything you need to know about Rockstar’s multiplayer Wild West," 19 Sep. 2018 Fortunately, the tattoo doesn’t give too much away in terms of spoilers for how Daenerys’ epic story may conclude in the eighth season of Game of Thrones, set to air in the first half of next year. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Emilia Clarke Got The Perfect 'Game of Thrones' Tribute Tattoo in Honor of Her Character, Daenerys Targaryen," 20 Sep. 2018 Illustration: Ruth Gwily The need for such epic stories predates printed or even written literature and will survive even if books disappear, as many writers and readers now fear. Adam Kirsch, WSJ, "The Way We Read Now," 3 Aug. 2018 Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela Mandela’s life was one of the epic stories of the 20th century. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Barack Obama's New Summer Reading List Has a Theme," 13 July 2018 The real-life people involved in these threads also never agreed to star in an epic love story. Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic, "Stop Live-Tweeting Strangers Flirting," 9 July 2018 As the three cross paths later in Paris, Dupontel blends surrealism and crime drama in this epic story of the brutal scars left by the war. Loren King, BostonGlobe.com, "At the MFA, it’s time for the Boston French Film Festival," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of epic

Noun

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for epic

Adjective

Latin epicus, from Greek epikos, from epos word, speech, poem — more at voice

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Statistics for epic

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for epic

The first known use of epic was in 1583

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More Definitions for epic

epic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of epic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: telling a story about a hero or about exciting events or adventures

: very great or large and usually difficult or impressive

epic

noun

English Language Learners Definition of epic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a long poem that tells the story of a hero's adventures

: a long book, movie, etc., that usually tells a story about exciting events or adventures

epic

noun
ep·​ic | \ˈe-pik \

Kids Definition of epic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long poem that tells the story of a hero's deeds

epic

adjective

Kids Definition of epic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : telling a great and heroic story an epic poem

2 : heroic or impressive because of great size or effort A large crowd … had gathered to witness the epic ascent.— Brian Jacques, Redwall

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More from Merriam-Webster on epic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for epic

Spanish Central: Translation of epic

Nglish: Translation of epic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of epic for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about epic

Comments on epic

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