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 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 Wohl imagines this section as an epistle to Bobby, describing what became of Edie. Jessica Ferri, Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug. 2022 In its paper-thin hypocrisy, his video epistle Was a minute-long rendition of his usual dog whistle. John Lithgow, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 The group epistle was sent to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of HHS that works on research and tools to improve health care and policy. Tom Simonite, Wired, 24 Sep. 2020 His epistle to the American legal community drew cheers from Ahmari, who already shares his skepticism of the prevailing liberal order. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 2 Apr. 2020 Nearly everything that worked so well the first time falls apart in the new series, which becomes a languorously long, frequently cryptic epistle on the sin of letting style conquer substance. Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2020 An epistle from space, written by an older and wiser society, could be detected by our radio telescopes; the aliens might then invite us to join a galactic federation of enlightened peers who communicate in a universal tongue. Adam Mann, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 2019 See More

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 27 Sep. 2023.

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

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