epit·​o·​me | \ i-ˈpi-tə-mē How to pronounce epitome (audio) \

Definition of epitome

1 : a typical or ideal example : embodiment the British monarchy itself is the epitome of tradition— Richard Joseph
2a : a summary of a written work
b : a brief presentation or statement of something
3 : brief or miniature form usually used with in

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from epitome

epitomic \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈtä-​mik How to pronounce epitome (audio) \ or epitomical \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈtä-​mi-​kəl How to pronounce epitome (audio) \ adjective

Epitome Has Greek Roots

Epitome first appeared in print in 1520, when it was used to mean "summary." If someone asks you to summarize a long paper, you effectively cut it up, mentioning only the most important ideas in your synopsis, and the etymology of epitome reflects this process. The word descends from Greek epitemnein, meaning "to cut short," which in turn was formed from the prefix epi- and the verb temnein, which means "to cut." Your summary probably also presents all the key points of the original work, which may explain why epitome eventually came to be used for anything (such as a person or object) that is a clear or good example of an abstraction.

Examples of epitome in a Sentence

Terns, nicknamed sea swallows by fishermen, are superb flying machines, the epitome of beauty on the wing. — E. Vernon Laux, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2001 Manchester, then known as 'Cottonopolis' and perceived throughout the world as the epitome of the whirling fierceness of the industrial revolution.  … — Roy Jenkins, Gladstone, (1995) 1997 Hamilton thought the bank was a fait accompli, but he had not reckoned on Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson, the lover of rural virtues, had a deep, almost visceral hatred of banks, the epitome of all that was urban. — John Steele Gordon, American Heritage, July/August 1990 I didn't tell him that, at the time, I thought the place to be the epitome of bourgeois comfort; in those days I thought that there was some connection between creative talent and penury. — Ishmael Reed, "August Wilson," 1987, in Writin' Is Fightin'1988 the golden rule is often cited as the epitome of moral conduct: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” the prestigious prep school prides itself on being widely regarded as the epitome of tradition and old-fashioned values
See More
Recent Examples on the Web If a win over Penn State was a sprinkle of that, avenging a College Football Playoff loss to Clemson is the epitome of it. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Jeremy Ruckert, Luke Farrell validate the tight end experience in Ohio State football’s win over Clemson: Stephen Means’ observations," 4 Jan. 2021 In a macro sense, Saturday’s meeting with No. 3 Kansas (8-1, 2-0 Big 12) is the epitome of a defining moment for No. 8 Texas (7-1, 1-0). Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Road matchup with No. 3 Kansas a measuring stick game for No. 8 Texas," 1 Jan. 2021 Topped off with saltwater and hermetically sealed at the source, Cambados’s wares are the epitome of freshness. Benjamin Kemper, WSJ, "Dinner From a Can, No Apologies," 17 Dec. 2020 Spec building is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward, with luxury developers erecting some of the largest houses in Southern California without a buyer lined up and slapping on price tags that regularly top $100 million. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, "In Bel-Air, a 34,000-square-foot spec mansion gets an $81-million price cut," 14 Dec. 2020 The reality is that Christmas is the epitome of hope, the barn in Bethlehem its symbol. Steve Straessle, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | STEVE STRAESSLE: Southern Cross," 12 Dec. 2020 The Wildcats’ 63-53 victory against West Side in a Great Lakes Conference game Friday night was the epitome of what an experienced, skilled team can do to its opponent if given the smallest opening. Mike Hutton, chicagotribune.com, "Six days after one-point loss to top-ranked Lawrence North, Hammond takes down West Side with furious fourth-quarter rally," 11 Dec. 2020 As most girls who were teens in 2008 will tell you, UGGs were the epitome of style. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "An Ode To UGGs: The “Ugly” Shoe Everyone Loves To Hate," 26 Nov. 2020 The epitome of balance, West Virginia can attack teams from every which way. Marcus Krum, Dallas News, "Texas prediction: Will Longhorns continue win streak without RB Keaontay Ingram?," 5 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epitome.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of epitome

1520, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for epitome

Latin, from Greek epitomē, from epitemnein to cut short, from epi- + temnein to cut — more at tome

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about epitome

Time Traveler for epitome

Time Traveler

The first known use of epitome was in 1520

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about epitome

Statistics for epitome

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Epitome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitome. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for epitome


How to pronounce epitome (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of epitome

: a perfect example : an example that represents or expresses something very well

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on epitome

What made you want to look up epitome? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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