epiphany

noun
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 Henrot, working in a period of overwhelming accessibility, restores a sense of wonder and discovery, the epiphany of holding a mysterious specimen in your hands. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, "“Grosse Fatigue” Tells the Story of Life on Earth," 10 July 2020 The depths of a bear market is not a great time to have this investment epiphany but a huge run-up in stocks is never a bad time to reassess your diversification profile. Ben Carlson, Fortune, "When should you sell your stocks? Only in these cases," 28 June 2020 Perhaps there’s a reader who will find epiphany in this. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Ottessa Moshfegh’s Pursuit of Disgust," 23 June 2020 Autofictional accounts of quarantine in Brooklyn in which the pandemic serves as backdrop to the personal epiphany of an alienated protagonist who discovers the virtues of the simpler life, via much massaging of dough and theoretical jargon? Jennifer Wilson, The New Republic, "The Down Days Is an Eerily Prescient Pandemic Novel," 10 June 2020 Although the City had previously insisted that its ordinance served important public safety purposes, our grant of review apparently led to an epiphany of sorts, and the City quickly changed its ordinance. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "Justice Samuel Alito issues scathing rebuke of Supreme Court decision to discard Second Amendment case," 28 Apr. 2020 Rid yourself of banal tasks and live a life composed entirely of epiphanies. Kristen Radtke, The New Yorker, "Your Milk-Preference Horoscope," 7 Feb. 2020 Tomorrow: Metta World Peace had an epiphany about mental health during the 2010 title run. Los Angeles Times, "Derek Fisher’s clutch play defined his Lakers career and a title run," 10 May 2020 The commercial features the two A-listers on treadmills as Johnson gets hit with an epiphany. Omar Sanchez, EW.com, "Finally! Dwayne Johnson and Oprah are 'running mates'," 3 Feb. 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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Last Updated

21 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epiphany.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for epiphany

epiphany

noun
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

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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