epit·​o·​me i-ˈpi-tə-mē How to pronounce epitome (audio)
: a typical or ideal example : embodiment
the British monarchy itself is the epitome of traditionRichard Joseph
: a summary of a written work
: a brief presentation or statement of something
: brief or miniature form
usually used with in
epitomic adjective
or epitomical

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Epitome Has Greek Roots

Epitome first appeared in print in the early 16th century, 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, and the etymology of epitome reflects this process: it comes from Greek epitemnein, meaning "to cut short." Your summary probably also presents all the key points of the original work, which may explain why epitome eventually came to be used for any person or object that is a clear or good example of an abstraction, as in "the epitome of grace" or "the epitome of health." We could go on and on... or could we?

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
Recent Examples on the Web Find it on Amazon A Tank Dress to Add a Flirty Touch With the Pleated Skirt This tank dress is the epitome of class and comfort. Hyphensocial Contributors, Rolling Stone, 15 July 2024 With her big-doe eyes, long lashes, and energetic magnetism that left us wanting more, Duvall was the epitome of a cool girl. Rendy Jones, EW.com, 12 July 2024 Located on the shores of Lake Kezar, the resort is the epitome of fun for all. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 9 July 2024 Duck Boardwalk Duck The entire town of Duck is as quaint as can be, but its waterfront boardwalk that’s sandwiched by a slew of inviting restaurants and boutiques on one side and peaceful boat docks on the other is the epitome of a perfect vacation scene. Tara Massouleh McCay, Southern Living, 5 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for epitome 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1520, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of epitome was in 1520


Dictionary Entries Near epitome

Cite this Entry

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

Kids Definition


epit·​o·​me i-ˈpit-ə-mē How to pronounce epitome (audio)
: a summary of a written work
: a brief statement of the main points or facts
: something thought to represent a basic quality or an ideal example
your response was the epitome of good sense

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