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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Kim Kardashian suffers an epic Photoshop fail as fans mock squashed car in Instagram snap https://t.co/NTR2o69VFL pic.twitter.com/xXmgcxrRp9 — Jhon Richard Lee (@thejhonlee) March 25, 2018 Only Kim would use a demonstration to promote herself. refinery29.com, "Kim Kardashian Just Explained Photoshop To The Internet & We Can't Stop Laughing," 27 Mar. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But some of the most mind-blowing tweets came from fans who pointed out that Beyoncé might have actually hinted at Everything Is Love's release during her epic performance at Coachella earlier this year. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Best Internet Reactions to Beyoncé and Jay Z's Album, "Everything Is Love"," 17 June 2018 From Charlotte's epic performance as bridesmaid to George's straight-up cheesing during the official portraits, the day offered a high dose of royal children cuteness. Marie Claire, "Prince George Is a Giggling Rascal at Trooping the Colour Right Now," 9 June 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about epic

Statistics for epic

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for epic

The first known use of epic was in 1583

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up epic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to teach someone the beliefs of a group

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!