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

And the timeless television epic that was Friends, which has now been dragged into one of the most heated elections of midterms season, thanks to a flyer created by Georgia's Republican Party that repurposes the Friends logo to attack Stacey Abrams. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Dear Georgia Republicans, Leave 'Friends' Alone," 23 Oct. 2018 This gigantic format has existed in some incarnation or another since the 1890s but came into its own with the big-screen epics of the 1950s and '60s. Peter Opaskar, Ars Technica, "2001 in 70mm: Pod bay doors look better than ever, still won’t open," 21 July 2018 Damsel, written and directed by the Zellner Brothers (Nathan and the aforementioned David), is a grimly funny, gorgeously photographed epic that builds up the iconography of old, romantic Westerns and then delights in toppling it. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Damsel Is a One-Note Satire of Classic Westerns," 23 June 2018 The heavily symbolic epic, it must be said, makes little sense to this particular grandfather, but it is charged with visual drama. John Lithgow, New York Times, "Grandmas and Grandpas Are a Kid’s Natural Allies in These Books," 22 June 2018 The epic that resulted from his efforts over decades — first writing all four librettos in reverse order, then composing the music from beginning to end — is sufficiently rich and nuanced to be staged in countless ways. Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bingeing on ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘The Wire’? Wagner’s ‘Ring’ paved the way," 30 May 2018 The World War II epic, thus far little-honored in Hollywood's awards season, emerged especially strong with Oscar voters, taking eight nominations, many of them in technical categories. Bloomberg.com, "Del Toro’s ‘Shape of Water’ Lands a Leading 13 Oscar Nods," 23 Jan. 2018 Check out all the epic covers, as well as Halsey's reactions to them, above. Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "Watch Halsey React to Fans Covering Her Biggest Songs," 1 Dec. 2018 Starz might be the land of big, winding epics — the American Gods and Outlanders of the world — or hyper-masculine, violent fare like Ash Vs. refinery29.com, "Sweetbitter Review: Restaurant Dramedy Is New York Fantasy For The Modern Day," 1 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

As some of the most photographed people on the planet, the Kardashians are no strangers to epic Photoshop fails. Dan Barna, Allure, "Calvin Klein Says Kourtney Kardashian Was Not a Victim of a "Photoshop Fail"," 3 Aug. 2018 The Kardashian-Jenner clan has taken epic family Christmas photos for years—but the tradition almost ended with 2017's card. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "The Kardashian-Jenner Christmas Card Is Here, and It's Too Cute For Words," 24 Dec. 2018 This was like a really epic discovery about how to make movies better. Eleanor Hildebrandt, Popular Mechanics, "The True Story of the Lost Sci-Fi Movie "Brainstorm," Natalie Wood’s Last Film," 21 Dec. 2018 This year, Hawn and Russell put their awesomeness on full display in a holiday gift to the world with their truly epic Christmas card. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell Dress as Mrs. Claus and Santa Claus for Their Christmas Card," 15 Dec. 2018 There was epic traffic on the Seward Highway Saturday, officials said, as crowds flocked to the Girdwood Forest Fair and Kenai Peninsula to make the most of a warm, sunny day. Devin Kelly, Anchorage Daily News, "‘A screeching halt.’ Forest Fair crowds snarl traffic between Anchorage and Girdwood," 8 July 2018 On the television side, how would the epic battle between Netflix, Amazon Studios, and HBO shake out? Vogue, "Here Are the 2019 SAG Award Nominees," 12 Dec. 2018 Well, just keep scrolling because the absolutely epic Christmas Tree at Kensington Palace is guaranteed to change your mind and put you firmly on Team Royals Win Christmas Forever. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "See the Epic Christmas Tree at Kensington Palace, Where Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle Live," 8 Dec. 2018 Does that foreshadow where the epic final battle will take place in Season 8? Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Game of Thrones Season 8 Teaser Is Here and Fans Already Have Theories," 7 Dec. 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

14 Jan 2019

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 gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!