noun epit·o·me \ i-ˈpi-tə-mē \
|Updated on: 29 Jul 2018

Definition of epitome

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


play \ˌe-pə-ˈtä-mik\ or epitomical play \ˌe-pə-ˈtä-mi-kəl\ adjective

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Examples of epitome in a Sentence

  1. Terns, nicknamed sea swallows by fishermen, are superb flying machines, the epitome of beauty on the wing. —E. Vernon LauxNew York Times21 Aug. 2001
  2. Manchester, then known as 'Cottonopolis' and perceived throughout the world as the epitome of the whirling fierceness of the industrial revolution.  … —Roy JenkinsGladstone(1995) 1997
  3. 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 GordonAmerican HeritageJuly/August 1990
  4. 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
  5. the golden rule is often cited as the epitome of moral conduct: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

  6. the prestigious prep school prides itself on being widely regarded as the epitome of tradition and old-fashioned values

Recent Examples of epitome from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of epitome

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

EPITOME Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of epitome for English Language Learners

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

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