Definition of epithet
1a : a characterizing word or phrase accompanying or occurring in place of the name of a person or thingb : a disparaging or abusive word or phrasec : the part of a taxonomic name identifying a subordinate unit within a genus
2 obsolete : expression
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Examples of epithet in a sentence
His charitable works have earned him the epithet “Mr. Philanthropy.”
Many were offended by her use of racial epithets.
a group of angry people hurling epithets at one another
Recent Examples of epithet from the web
A few months ago, after meeting with a case manager to fill out housing applications, Shaquille heard someone yell a racial epithet at him on a street corner.
Mr. Trump’s about-face drew swift criticism, some of which featured an old Chinese epithet translated into English.
Gervais was referring to the epithet Gibson drunkenly used on a female cop during his 2006 arrest.
Seto, who lived a few blocks away near homes belonging to Navy families, remembered a neighbor rushing out of her home, screaming about how the Japanese, using an epithet common at the time, had attacked Pearl Harbor.
In the absence of a rigid class hierarchy, part of the answer was to isolate their kind within a series of epithets.
Lots of people had already written eloquently about the awfulness of racial epithets shouted from trucks, cotton balls left on a lawn, and an excrement swastika on a bathroom wall.
There were so many of them, for one thing; the Westboro congregation turned out to be a young one, and even some of the lank-haired women holding signs and spitting epithets turned out be, on closer inspection, teenagers.
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Did You Know?
Nowadays, "epithet" is usually used negatively, with the meaning "a derogatory word or phrase," but it wasn't always that way. "Epithet" comes to us via Latin from the Greek noun epitheton and ultimately derives from epitithenai, meaning "to put on" or "to add." In its oldest sense, an "epithet" is simply a descriptive word or phrase, especially one joined by fixed association to the name of someone or something (as in "Peter the Great" or the stock Homeric phrases "gray-eyed Athena" and "wine-dark sea"). Alternatively, epithets may be used in place of a name (as in "the Peacemaker" or "the Eternal"). These neutral meanings of "epithet" are still in use, but today the word is more often used in its negative "term of disparagement" sense.
Origin and Etymology of epithet
Latin epitheton, from Greek, from neuter of epithetos added, from epitithenai to put on, add, from epi- + tithenai to put — more at do
First Known Use: 1579
EPITHET Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of epithet for English Language Learners
: a word or phrase that describes a person or thing
: an offensive word or name that is used as a way of abusing or insulting someone
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