epit·o·me | \i-ˈpi-tə-mē \

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

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Other Words from epitome

epitomic \ˌe-pə-ˈtä-mik \ or epitomical \ˌe-pə-ˈtä-mi-kəl \ 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

In academic journals, galleries of paleoart, and even the now-25-year-old Jurassic Park franchise, T. rex has come to represent the ultimate epitome of dinosaurness. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "How We Elected T. rex to be Our Tyrant Lizard King," 21 June 2018 Starks was the epitome of a utility player for the Chargers. Andrew Turner, latimes.com, "Daily Pilot Softball Dream Team: Unexpected year from Kelli Kufta kept Huntington Beach strong," 8 July 2018 At the time the move seemed the epitome of tone-deafness. Patrick Comiskey, latimes.com, "Why you should be drinking Gamay Noir this summer," 11 July 2018 For many, the lakefront fireworks on July 3 are the epitome of Independence Day in Milwaukee every year. Samantha West, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Many camp out before lakefront fireworks every year. But it's not all about the fireworks.," 3 July 2018 To rent out the entire Louvre Museum in Paris for their music video marks the epitome of fame, and the crowds swarming The Carters, including recently on their On The Run II Tour, solidify how insane fans will go over the two. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Here Are the Lyrics to Beyonce & JAY-Z's 'Apeshit'," 25 June 2018 Kelli Ward struggling to stand out In a competitive primary, Ward may not mind being on the outs with McConnell, the epitome of the GOP establishment. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Kelli Ward may have missed her shot in the GOP primary for Senate. Here's why," 11 June 2018 For decades, the furry leopard print coat has been considered the epitome of chic, from the swing-cut style Jackie Kennedy made waves with in 1962 to the many versions Kate Moss has been photographed in over the years. Alice Bell, Vogue, "Into the Wild! 5 Chic Ways to Pull Off Head-to-Toe Animal Print," 31 May 2018 On the one side was the AfD. On the other was a counter-rally organised by techno clubs, epitomes of the right-on, post-68 Germany. The Economist, "The legacy of Germany’s student protests in 1968," 31 May 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for epitome

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for epitome

The first known use of epitome was in 1520

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English Language Learners Definition of epitome

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on epitome

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for epitome

Spanish Central: Translation of epitome

Nglish: Translation of epitome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of epitome for Arabic Speakers

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a generally accepted meaning of a word

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