epitome

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

Essential Meaning of epitome

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

Full 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

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 any 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 The outdoor kitchen and lounge areas are the epitome of alfresco dining. Dobrina Zhekova, Travel + Leisure, 5 Jan. 2022 Located in the Triangle d’or, on 30 Avenue Georges V, a few steps away from The American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity or The Champs Elysées, the property is the epitome of elegance. Cécilia Pelloux, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 Robert Thomas is the epitome of turning lemons into [an entire store of] lemonade. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, 27 Dec. 2021 Athletes are perceived as the epitome of health and wellness, and as role models on and off the court. Erica L. Ayala, Forbes, 4 Nov. 2021 The former Wall Street investment banker was quick to see Trump as the epitome of his own populist, nationalist ideology and worked as a White House official in the early months of his administration. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 21 Oct. 2021 Mathematics as an academic field is notoriously homogenous—mostly White or Asian and male—and though mathematicians are not seen as the epitome of masculinity, the culture is macho and aggressive. Jessica Nordell, The Atlantic, 25 Sep. 2021 At five feet and 100 pounds, she's described as the epitome of determination. CBS News, 17 July 2021 Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House, built in 1946, was immortalized in Slim Aarons's Poolside Gossip photo as the epitome of midcentury glamour in 1970. Olivia Hosken, Town & Country, 24 June 2021

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near epitome

epitomator

epitome

epitomise

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for epitome

Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Epitome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitome. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on epitome

Nglish: Translation of epitome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of epitome for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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