epistolary

adjective
epis·to·lary | \i-ˈpi-stə-ˌler-ē, ˌe-pi-ˈstȯ-lə-rē \

Definition of epistolary 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or suitable to a letter

2 : contained in or carried on by letters an endless sequence of … epistolary love affairsThe Times Literary Supplement (London)

3 : written in the form of a series of letters an epistolary novel

epistolary

noun
plural epistolaries

Definition of epistolary (Entry 2 of 2)

: a lectionary containing a body of liturgical epistles

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Did You Know?

Adjective

Epistolary was formed from the noun epistle, which refers to a composition written in the form of a letter to a particular person or group. In its original sense, epistle refers to one of the 21 letters (such as those from the apostle Paul) found in the New Testament. Dating from the 13th century, epistle came to English via Anglo-French and Latin from the Greek noun epistolē, meaning "message" or "letter." Epistolē, in turn, came from the verb epistellein, meaning "to send" to or "to send from." Epistolary appeared in English four centuries after epistle and can be used to describe something related to or contained in a letter (as in "epistolary greetings") or composed of letters (as in "an epistolary novel").

Examples of epistolary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

This epistolary approach evokes a measure of intimacy and illuminates the undeniable complexities of the Israeli history, across the millennia. Barbara Mahany, chicagotribune.com, "Jimmy Carter's latest book, 'Faith,' leads this week's roundup of spiritual books," 9 July 2018 The Stray Letter: True to the epistolary age in which it was written, letters play a huge role in Farquhar’s plot, which grows especially confusing and diffuse after intermission. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Love and death in Spring Green: 'The Recruiting Officer,' 'Exit the King'," 3 July 2018 Specifically, Netflix's adaptation of the epistolary novel stars Lily James as writer Juliet Ashton, a novelist who receives a letter from the titular society asking to learn more about her. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Netflix’s Newest Romance Actually Has Nothing To Do With Potatoes," 28 June 2018 At its heart is the epistolary duel between former lovers the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, whose letter-writing commitment and brio go some way to excuse their moral depravity. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, "Sex as a weapon in Nora’s all-male ‘Liaisons’," 5 June 2018 Novels like Dracula, The Mysteries of Udolpho, or Frankenstein often drew upon the material of ordinary life, either by using epistolary forms or simply beginning their narration in the normal world. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Weird Fiction Is Alive," 7 May 2018 But Massicotte’s unconventional structure, which incorporates a memory play within a dream, with dollops of epistolary exposition, keeps most of it at bay. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "In 'Mary’s Wedding,' dreams of a wedding mix with trench warfare, 100 years after WWI," 2 Apr. 2018 Before long the movie has become not just a tale of burgeoning friendship but also a 21st century epistolary romance between two equally secret admirers. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "'Love, Simon' is a sweet, disarming first: a gay teen romantic comedy from a major studio," 14 Mar. 2018 Jennifer Palmieri gets epistolary and empowering with Dear Madam President (Grand Central). Vanity Fair, Vanities, "What to Read in April," 2 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epistolary.' 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 epistolary

Adjective

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1900, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for epistolary

The first known use of epistolary was circa 1656

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More Definitions for epistolary

epistolary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of epistolary

: of or relating to a letter : suitable to a letter

: written in the form of a series of letters

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