epiphany

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

Essential Meaning of epiphany

1 : a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ
2 : a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way Seeing her father again when she was an adult was an epiphany that changed her whole view of her childhood. She experienced an epiphany.

Full 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

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 By contrast, Coltrane appeared hesitant to toy with A Love Supreme, as though his offering to God should remain intact, an inviolable record of his epiphany, if not a holy object in its own right. Adam Shatz, The New York Review of Books, 7 Oct. 2021 The psychologist Gillian Sandstrom had a similar epiphany about them about a decade ago. Joe Keohane, The Atlantic, 4 Aug. 2021 Ultimately, international travel would provide Earthgang with their epiphany. Daphne Ewing-chow, Forbes, 9 June 2021 On July 21, during an uneventful evening spent scrolling through news of the Delta surge, Phelps had a sudden epiphany. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 16 Nov. 2021 That speech, like so many other moments in Midnight Mass, plants a seed that sprouts into a narrative epiphany as the story concludes. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 23 Sep. 2021 There follows a sugary epiphany in which Moses stands up to the officer and so purges him of evil. Terry Teaxhout, WSJ, 26 Aug. 2021 But old-man fist-shaking leads to a touching epiphany this time. Washington Post, 10 May 2021 Once again, host Nick Cannon had some sort of butt-tapping sixth sense, because when Dalmatian hit Cannon's backside with his tail, the host supposedly had an epiphany about who was under the mask. Lauren Huff, EW.com, 30 Sep. 2021

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, borrowed from Anglo-French Epiphane, Epiphanie, borrowed from Late Latin epiphanīa, epiphania "appearance, manifestation, Christ's first manifestation (to the Gentiles in Western tradition)," borrowed from Late Greek epipháneia "appearance, manifestation (of God in the Old Testament, of Christ's first coming or of the Second Coming)," going back to Greek, "appearance, coming into view, manifestation (of a deity to a worshipper), Christ's coming (in the New Testament), visible surface, outward show, fame," noun derivative of epiphanḗs "coming into view, appearing, manifest, evident," adjective derivative from the stem of epiphaínein "to show, display," mediopassive epiphaínesthai "to come into view, be manifested, appear on the the service," from epi- epi- + phaínein "to bring to light, cause to appear," phaínesthai "to become visible, appear" — more at fantasy entry 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near epiphany

epiphanous

epiphany

epipharyngeal

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Epiphany.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on epiphany

Nglish: Translation of epiphany for Spanish Speakers

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about epiphany

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