epiphany

noun
epiph·​a·​ny | \i-ˈpi-fə-nē \
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

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

For Balanchine, who was assigned to stage it, Stravinsky’s score was an epiphany. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Bringing It All Back Home: City Ballet Begins Again With Balanchine," 25 Jan. 2018 Though a staggering 25 songs long, Scorpion could be a mere prelude, a stopping point, before a greater epiphany. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Why Drake Can’t Pull Off Being the ‘Good Guy’," 5 July 2018 The 29-year-old researcher said his work was sparked by an epiphany in his life a few years ago. Author: William Wan, Anchorage Daily News, "Rebel developers are trying to cure our smartphone addiction – with an app," 18 June 2018 The 29-year-old researcher said his work was sparked by an epiphany in his life a few years ago. Author: William Wan, Anchorage Daily News, "Rebel developers are trying to cure our smartphone addiction – with an app," 18 June 2018 Sometimes, at the very least, epiphanies are cheap. Laura Jean Baker, chicagotribune.com, "When a 'natural' mother considers plastic surgery," 29 Apr. 2018 The 29-year-old researcher said his work was sparked by an epiphany in his life a few years ago. Author: William Wan, Anchorage Daily News, "Rebel developers are trying to cure our smartphone addiction – with an app," 18 June 2018 Breaks in the line can signify mental strife, or more optimistically, monumental breakthroughs or epiphanies. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "A Beginner's Guide to Reading Palms," 4 June 2018 Like a modern-day Prometheus, Maslow stole epiphany from the gods and gave it to mortals. David G. Allan, CNN, "Peak experiences, perfect moments and the extra-ordinary," 3 May 2018

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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Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

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

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More Definitions for epiphany

epiphany

noun

English Language Learners Definition of epiphany

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with epiphany

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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