ep·​i·​graph ˈe-pə-ˌgraf How to pronounce epigraph (audio)
: an engraved inscription
: a quotation set at the beginning of a literary work or one of its divisions to suggest its theme

Examples of epigraph in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Farmers had wrenched the metal from monuments to make tools and used broken statues and epigraphs to build walls to protect their flocks and crops. Rachel Howard, Travel + Leisure, 26 Apr. 2024 The book opens with an epigraph from Eliot, as if to announce that Waldman is explicitly working in the tradition of the big, morally serious social novel that studies delicate textures of human interaction and psychological response. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 6 Mar. 2024 James’s epigraph is a snapshot of songs from the notebook of Daniel Decatur Emmett, a founder of the first blackface minstrel troupe, a wink at how Jim will play his intelligence to survive amidst his white counterparts. Vulture, 2 Jan. 2024 Two of the novel’s epigraphs might illustrate what fiction can accomplish. Sam Needleman, The New York Review of Books, 2 Sep. 2023 Like Pond, Bennett’s 2015 debut, Checkout 19 comes heavily buttressed with epigraphs. Gabriel Winslow-Yost, Harper's Magazine, 9 Feb. 2022 The epigraph to the second part of Anton Shammas’s novel Arabesques, first published in Hebrew in 1986, reads: Dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white. Ruth Margalit, The New York Review of Books, 30 Mar. 2023 Still’s Afro-American Symphony features spoken epigraphs of Dunbar poems before each movement. Minnita Daniel-Cox, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Mar. 2023 Phipps uses it as an epigraph. Dan Piepenbring, Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'epigraph.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Greek epigraphḗ "act of inscribing, inscription," noun of action from epigráphein "to mark the surface of, graze, scratch a mark on, inscribe" — more at epigram

First Known Use

1624, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of epigraph was in 1624

Dictionary Entries Near epigraph

Cite this Entry

“Epigraph.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epigraph. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

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