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

Did you know?

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 From their sustainable sourcing to their natural beauty and durability, bamboo utensils are the epitome of eco-friendliness. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 3 Apr. 2024 The Morning Show star and her late actor father, John Aniston, were the epitome of father-daughter goals. Grace Gavilanes, Peoplemag, 1 Apr. 2024 It was meant to be a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa because European culture was considered to be the epitome of refinement at the time. The Arizona Republic, 30 Mar. 2024 To me, this was the epitome of glamorous, enviable adulthood. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 21 Mar. 2024 The unpredictability of March Madness is the epitome of the sport, and the women’s tournament is no exception. Jeff Fromm, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Despite sitting so close to Cincinnati, Newtown is the epitome of a small town, and its crime rate reflects that. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 26 Mar. 2024 With a capacious interior and short yet wide straps, this bag is the epitome of casually cool confidence. Alexis Bennett Parker, Vogue, 25 Mar. 2024 Triple Pea Salad With Crunchy Farro English, snap and snow peas come together for a supremely crunchy salad that is the epitome of spring. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2024

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 15 Apr. 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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