epic

noun
ep·​ic | \ ˈe-pik How to pronounce epic (audio) \

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 How to pronounce epic (audio) \

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 How to pronounce epical (audio) \ adjective
epically \ ˈe-​pi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce epically (audio) \ 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

There are recommendations here for those, too, including a sprawling science fiction epic and an unusual history of baseball, that great summer pastime. Jim Kiest, ExpressNews.com, "12 new books for your summer reading list," 5 June 2019 Martin Scorsese’s irrepressibly Boston epic comes to Netflix. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Friday: ‘Dateline’ With Andrea Constand and ‘800 Words’," 1 June 2018 The incident made for a pretty humorous scene in 1983's space epic The Right Stuff. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Early NASA diapers forced astronauts to disclose the size of their manhood," 13 Apr. 2018 Most of the classic books written before 1700 were written in verse, from Homer’s epics to the plays of Shakespeare. Adam Kirsch, WSJ, "Poetry for the Pleasure of It," 13 Apr. 2018 Murphy fought in the same areas as Conner and went on to star in dozens of Hollywood films, most of them Westerns and war epics. CBS News, "Second-most decorated WWII soldier won't get Medal of Honor," 12 Mar. 2014 From blockbuster epics to smaller indie experiences to inventive takes on VR, the breadth and variety of games that came out over the last 12 months is astounding. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Why Return of the Obra Dinn is my game of the year," 21 Dec. 2018 Having prepared the ingredients for an epic, Mr. Gessen has fashioned another work of narrow confessional realism that trucks in mundane observations and rueful ironies—something that feels, unfortunately, very American indeed. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Young and Privileged and Perpetually at Sea," 5 July 2018 Naturally, a project of such magnitude made for an epic on-set experience. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "How Netflix’s ‘A Great Day in Hollywood’ Got its Fashion Flavor," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Mother-daughter getaways can be epic, and are the perfect opportunity to create lasting memories with your number one girl. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "Black Travel Vibes: Kandi and Riley's Trip to Tokyo is the Cutest Thing You'll See All Day," 6 June 2019 All in all, his decision to plunk down $4500 to attend the Fyre Festival already seemed like a mistake of epic proportions. Mara Reinstein, Billboard, "Schaden-Fest: Why Did We Start Rooting For Music Festivals to Crash and Burn?," 4 June 2019 That’s why the dictator Nicolás Maduro pledged to stop it, despite a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Maduro and Cuba Lose," 24 Feb. 2019 The winner this year will take home a $250,000 grand prize ... not to mention, some pretty epic bragging points. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "See Which 'MasterChef' Season 10 Contestants Made 2019's Top 20 Finalist List," 30 May 2019 As a solo artist, Uli Jon Roth’s playing is epic and heroic, unafraid of bombast and ecstatic shredding. John Adamian, courant.com, "Tedeschi Trucks And Jay Critch Are Just Two Of This Week's Must-See Shows," 2 July 2018 Dorothy Draper was a master of camp; her public spaces at The Greenbrier hotel in West Virginia are epic. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, "Behold the Campiest Rooms of All Time," 7 May 2019 Most users bowed down to how epic her arrival was to begin with. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga's Met Gala Entrance Is Already a Fantastic Meme," 6 May 2019 The fund’s struggle for the attention (and dollars) of investors was epic. John C. Bogle, WSJ, "Bogle Sounds a Warning on Index Funds," 29 Nov. 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

17 Jun 2019

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

noun

English Language Learners Definition of epic

 (Entry 1 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

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of epic (Entry 2 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
ep·​ic | \ ˈe-pik How to pronounce epic (audio) \

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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