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

The 29-year-old researcher said his work was sparked by an epiphany in his life a few years ago. William Wan, Houston Chronicle, "Rebel developers are trying to cure our smartphone addiction - with an app," 17 June 2018 Eli’s Bees is making raw honey that’s a sweet epiphanyAfter a recent dinner at Saddlerock Gardens in Malibu, guests were invited to linger. Josh Lurie, Los Angeles Magazine, "Honey Made by Bees in Different Parts of L.A. All Tastes Wonderfully Different," 25 June 2018 By his own admission, Bourdain was a snot of a kid who wasted, in more than one sense of the word, two years at Vassar College before an epiphany led him to a life in the kitchen and an education at the Culinary Institute of America. Michael Klein, Philly.com, "Anthony Bourdain: He didn't set out to be a celebrity," 8 June 2018 Which brings me to that farmers market eggplant or my epiphany about freshness and quality. Evan Kleiman, latimes.com, "Cucina Italiana: The joy of eggplant. Try making a timbale," 5 July 2018 Similarly, her mini epiphanies, on the rock and in life, resonated with me. Jayme Moye, Outside Online, "A Climbing Memoir with More Agony Than Ecstasy," 8 May 2018 After her orchestra pit epiphany, her mother, Annette Swartz, enrolled her in Suzuki violin classes. OregonLive.com, "This Beaverton teen doesn't just play in an orchestra - she also composes for it," 25 Feb. 2018 My final culinary epiphany occurred on my last night, at Licorería Limantour, Mexico City's foremost cocktail bar. Mary Kaye Schilling, Town & Country, "Discovering the Culture of Mexico City," 18 Oct. 2016 My musical epiphany as a kid was hearing (Benny Goodman’s) 1938 Carnegie Hall concert album with Gene Krupa. Michael James Rocha, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Top weekend events: San Diego History Center's LGBTQ+ exhibit, Kevin Hart, Bayside Summer Nights," 6 July 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

29 Aug 2018

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

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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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