epis·​tle i-ˈpi-səl How to pronounce epistle (audio)
: one of the letters adopted as books of the New Testament
: a liturgical lection usually from one of the New Testament Epistles
: letter
especially : a formal or elegant letter
: a composition in the form of a letter
epistler noun

Examples of epistle in a Sentence

St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. He penned lengthy epistles to her.
Recent Examples on the Web One of the earliest witnesses to the spread of Christianity, the codex features the first epistle of Peter and the Book of Jonah. Lianne Kolirin, CNN, 3 Apr. 2024 Yet the novel evolved incrementally from public to private, epistle to narrative as the scope of the vision enlarged. David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2024 The Pauline epistles contain numerous references to women who were instrumental in the leadership of the early church: Phoebe, a deaconess; Chloe; Apphia; Euodia; Nympha; Junia. Cressida Leyshon, The New Yorker, 31 July 2023 The Rapture has no scriptural basis besides an obviously metaphorical verse in Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians. Michael Robbins, Harper’s Magazine , 9 Nov. 2022 See all Example Sentences for epistle 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'epistle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, letter, Epistle, from Anglo-French, from Latin epistula, epistola letter, from Greek epistolē message, letter, from epistellein to send to, from epi- + stellein to send

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of epistle was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near epistle

Cite this Entry

“Epistle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epistle. Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


epis·​tle i-ˈpis-əl How to pronounce epistle (audio)
capitalized : any of the letters to the early Christians that are part of the New Testament
: a formal letter

More from Merriam-Webster on epistle

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!