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

After an epic, multiday lake effect snowstorm in December, the city now has more than 143 inches for the season — about 220 percent of its average for mid-February. Angela Fritz, Washington Post, "D.C. is No. 2 on the list of ‘snow losers’ this winter," 8 Feb. 2018 The crime of which he is accused turns out to be an absolute epic, a sort of moral and philosophical conundrum worked out through the medium of horrifying violence, confronting real-world genocide with vigilante law. Elif Batuman, The New Yorker, "A Public Defender’s Polyphonic Novel of Football and Social Justice," 30 Apr. 2018 Suddenly, thanks to showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Martin’s sprawling fantasy epic seemed a bit smaller and a bit more manageable. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "How George R.R. Martin went from revered 'Game of Thrones' author to the literary world's biggest villain," 5 Apr. 2018 Steven Spielberg's empty sci-fi epic Ready Player One takes place in a 2045 so dystopian that people spend all their time under headsets, inhabiting a virtual reality known as OASIS. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "With Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg finds his avatar," 29 Mar. 2018 When the nominations were announced, however, Dee Rees’ historical epic received four nods, including two for Mary J. Blige, for Supporting Actress and Original Song. Eliza Berman, Time, "Today's Oscar Nominations Prove the Academy Can Still Surprise Us — in a Good Way," 23 Jan. 2018 Just days ago, this loopy, modern epic vanished from Netflix, only to appear immediately on Hulu. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Sunday: The Golden Globes and ‘The Chi’," 7 Jan. 2018 Similarly, Filizadeh’s inkjet photo-prints of lavish if often inscrutable costume-dramas, often starring himself as static protagonist of the historical epic, makes him Tehran’s Eleanor Antin. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "In Iranian art show at LACMA, the past wrestles with the present," 4 June 2018 That epic fail followed a season in which Toews scored 21 goals, the fewest in a season in his career, and averaged 1.82 points per 60 minutes while skating five-on-five, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, the second-worst of his career. Steve Rosenbloom, chicagotribune.com, "Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews doesn't sound like he has any answers," 10 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Mexico has been explosive on the counterattack, particularly in its epic 1-0 victory over Germany. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "Mexico hopes to end streak against Brazil," 29 June 2018 Side note: this isn't even the most epic cake baking fail from this episode. Olivia Harrison, refinery29.com, "The Most Hilarious, Over-The-Top Moments From Nailed It! Season 2," 29 June 2018 Elsewhere, Washington, and having to do a four-hour-plus epic on Broadway eight times a week. John Timpane, Philly.com, "David Morse and his 'St. Elsewhere' bud Denzel Washington are up for Tonys next week," 31 May 2018 Prom is a major milestone for high schoolers everywhere, making two Texas teenager’s photo shoot at Whataburger all the more epic. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Texas teens take prom photos at Whataburger," 23 May 2018 Aguilar fouled off six two-strike pitches to stay alive during the epic at-bat against reliever Junichi Taza. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 6, Marlins 5: Fantastic at-bat by Jesus Aguilar culminates with walk-off home run," 21 Apr. 2018 Borg vs McEnroe is an unflinching look at the pressures and rage in professional tennis centered around the epic Wimbledon men's final in 1980. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'Borg vs McEnroe': How Björn Borg's tennis star son Leo played his hot-headed father," 13 Apr. 2018 Houston fifth-year senior Devin Davis missed two crucial free throws to open the door for Jordan Poole’s epic buzzer-beating 3 on Saturday night. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Houston player returned to the line 45 minutes after missing crucial free throws," 18 Mar. 2018 This morning, Fashionista Editor-in-Chief Alyssa Vingan Klein reminded us of the epic shoot in a throwback Thursday post on Twitter that would make anyone swoon. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "This Kendall Jenner and Harry Styles Throwback Photo Is Making Me Feel Things," 29 June 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

7 Oct 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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