epitome

noun
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

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Other Words from epitome

epitomic \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈtä-​mik How to pronounce epitomic (audio) \ or epitomical \ ˌe-​pə-​ˈtä-​mi-​kəl How to pronounce epitomical (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
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Recent Examples on the Web Surrounded by the southern Pacific Ocean and with hundreds of miles of open water between it and the nearest other islands, Pitcairn is the epitome of solitude. Caleb Scharf, Scientific American, "Alone in a Crowded Milky Way," 1 Jan. 2020 In Ramayan, the hero, Lord Rama, who is the epitome of dharma (or morality, for the lack of a better English word to describe it), uses the principles of apad dharma on a few occasions. Anand Neelakanthan, Quartz India, "Who exactly was Chanakya, the ancient genius that wily Indian politicians are being compared with?," 20 Dec. 2019 If Trump’s abuse of office for personal gain is the epitome of the conduct feared by the framers, his outright refusal to cooperate in any way with the House impeachment inquiry would almost certainly have taken them by surprise. Noah Feldman, The New York Review of Books, "Is Trump Above the Law?," 19 Dec. 2019 In other words, the film’s top financial backer is a member of the most prominent family in South Korea—her first cousin is Jay Y. Lee, the de facto head of Samsung Electronics—the epitome of the social elite that Parasite demonizes. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "‘Parasite’ Producer Pokes at Fellow Elites," 26 Dec. 2019 The shortest day of the year, then, indicates the epitome of the earth's tilt away from the sun, giving us the shortest sun arc. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "Saturday marks the winter solstice. What does that mean?," 21 Dec. 2019 Take the 2019 admissions scandal, the epitome of helicopter parenting behavior. Dasia Moore, Quartz, "Being a protective black mom isn’t a parenting choice—it’s the only choice," 20 Dec. 2019 Carter: My mom and grandmother are the true epitome of style & grace to me. Nandi Howard, Essence, "LAVNTG Is Remixing Vintage Archived Pieces," 20 Dec. 2019 Cliff drives around in Rick’s Cadillac — that epitome of Greatest Generation aspiration — listening to Neil Diamond while the Manson girls dress like sluts and dive through dumpsters. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Shocking Right-Wing Tinge of Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood," 13 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for epitome

Time Traveler

The first known use of epitome was in 1520

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epitome.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitome. Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for epitome

epitome

noun
How to pronounce epitome (audio)

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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