epiph·​a·​ny | \ i-ˈpi-fə-nē How to pronounce epiphany (audio) \
plural epiphanies

Definition of epiphany

1 capitalized : January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ
2 : an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being
3a(1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
(2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
(3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
b : a revealing scene or moment

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Frequently Asked Questions About epiphany

Is there a difference between epiphany and revelation?

Epiphany and revelation have many similarities in meaning; one sense of epiphany is "a revealing scene or moment," and one sense of revelation is "something that is revealed." However, epiphany may also mean "an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being," a sense not shared by revelation. Additionally, revelation is more likely to be used in the ecclesiastic sense of "an act of revealing or communicating divine truth."

What does epiphany mean in the Bible?

The earliest definition of epiphany refers to the religious observance on January 6: "A church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ." When used this way it is usually capitalized.

Is there a difference between epiphany and eureka?

Eureka can function as an interjection or an adjective. An interjection is an ejaculatory utterance that usually lacks grammatical connection (someone who has just made a discovery may yell eureka), and an adjective modifies a noun (the person might describe this discovery as a eureka moment). While epiphany may cover some similar semantic terrain (particularly the sense meaning "an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure"), in terms of its function in a sentence, it is a noun.

Examples of epiphany in a Sentence

Invention has its own algorithm: genius, obsession, serendipity, and epiphany in some unknowable combination. — Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker, 12 May 2008 One day, a New York composer met an expert on Asian domesticated elephants, and together they reached some sort of freakish epiphany and decided to see if elephants could learn to play music. — Jon Pareles, New York Times, 5 Jan. 2002 One epiphany came when a dozen engineers in northern New Mexico saw a lone, fading Xerox paper carton bobbing in a swamp of old motor oil at the bottom of a pit. — Michelle Conlin, Business Week, 1 Nov. 1999 Seeing her father again when she was an adult was an epiphany that changed her whole view of her childhood.
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Recent Examples on the Web At some point during the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2018 reunion tour, Billy Corgan had an epiphany. Washington Post, "Billy Corgan doesn’t want to relive the Smashing Pumpkins’ past. But he’s happy to build on it.," 27 Nov. 2020 Sommelier Zion Curiel had a different kind of epiphany moment that launched his career in wine. Matt Bean, Sunset Magazine, "From Buicks to Beaujolais," 11 Nov. 2020 An epiphany followed; instead of running up and down the stairs to deliver bread to eager customers, the two would fix up the garage and open it for walk-ups. Flora Tsapovsky, SFChronicle.com, "A scrappy new neighborhood market captures the spirit of old San Francisco with sourdough and jam," 6 Nov. 2020 But on my seventeenth birthday, my parents had an epiphany. Fairoj Tashnia, refinery29.com, "Why I Want A Degree In My Hand Before A Ring On My Finger," 30 Oct. 2020 This encounter marks the moment that his project of reconstructing his own life in prose truly begins, but Marcel’s epiphany also prepares the reader to search the surface of things for clues to some greater essence. Oliver Munday, The Atlantic, "Proust Made My Rote Pandemic Existence Unfamiliar Again," 1 Nov. 2020 The better fare is praised for humanizing its characters, as though the realization that the working class also falls in love, faces disappointment and makes meaning were some sort of mind-bending epiphany. Blair Mcclendon, New York Times, "The ‘Purge’ Films Reveal the Ugly Truth About America," 27 Oct. 2020 That’s the opening epiphany, fueled by a few rounds of beers with Gig’s labor brothers at a Spokane tavern, that sends young Rye on his rocky journey toward enlightenment in this spirited and expansive novel. Maureen Corrigan, WSJ, "‘The Cold Millions’ Review: The Men That Don’t Fit In," 23 Oct. 2020 That was an early epiphany that helped set the show apart from the rest of the genre, said Morgan Fallon, a former executive producer and cinematographer on MeatEater who helped shape its sensibility. Oliver Staley, Quartz, "MeatEater’s Steven Rinella is helping America rethink its relationship with hunting," 23 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epiphany.' 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 epiphany

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for epiphany

Middle English epiphanie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin epiphania, from Late Greek, plural, probably alteration of Greek epiphaneia appearance, manifestation, from epiphainein to manifest, from epi- + phainein to show — more at fancy

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Time Traveler for epiphany

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The first known use of epiphany was in the 14th century

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Statistics for epiphany

Last Updated

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epiphany.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for epiphany


How to pronounce epiphany (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of epiphany

: a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ
: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way

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More from Merriam-Webster on epiphany

Nglish: Translation of epiphany for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of epiphany for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about epiphany

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