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 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 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 Cody Miller, principal at Larkspur, said Ibarra is the epitome of a caring teacher. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio teacher uses ties, vests and experience to inspire students to succeed," 10 May 2021 Just one of almost 11,000 pets who are treated in the shelter’s animal trauma hospital each year, this sweet girl is the epitome of the sick, injured and abused pets who are saved by AHS thanks to the support of the community. The Arizona Republic, "Honey Bee and more pets up for adoption in Phoenix-area shelters this week," 7 May 2021 Free of the tired overindulgence of the third game, while still carrying more meat on its bones than the original, God of War II is the epitome of vintage, uber-masculine, mid-aughts excess. Luke Winkie, Vulture, "The 20 Best Games on PlayStation Now," 4 May 2021 During the 1970's, American fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, aka Halston, was the epitome of ingenuity and glamor. Natalie Morin, refinery29.com, "Ewan McGregor Brings The Glamorous & Tortured Halston To Life In First Trailer," 3 May 2021 The epitome of that violation, of being controlled ended in the death and murder of his own mother by his own hands. Chancellor Agard, EW.com, "Black Lightning star Jordan Calloway on Khalil's struggle in the Painkiller pilot," 12 Apr. 2021 In conclusion, the images of Lazio players aimlessly waiting for the opponent to show up on an empty pitch are the epitome of an inefficient and chaotic soccer industry, blighted by useless bureaucratic procedures and feudal internal division. Giacomo Galardini, Forbes, "What’s Next For Serie A After SS Lazio-FC Torino Was Abandoned Due To COVID-19 Outbreak," 3 Mar. 2021 The 5-foot-7 guard is the epitome of balance for the Spartans (10-0), averaging 13 points and 4.8 assists. Tony Baranek, chicagotribune.com, "Girls basketball notes: Shooting star Mia Kennelly, who wants to ‘make a memory’ for the seniors, sparks Oak Lawn to a 10-0 start," 2 Mar. 2021 Dallas the show was the epitome of Dallas the city: wealthy, brash, beautiful and indisputably No. 1. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, "Is Dallas architecture still so bad?," 18 Dec. 2020

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

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The first known use of epitome was in 1520

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Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Epitome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitome. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for epitome



English Language Learners Definition of epitome

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

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