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

Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber are the best kind of hosts—chummy, clever, and in on the joke—and this is the epitome of easy, fun listening. Vogue, "15 Great Podcasts for Your Holiday Travel This Year," 20 Nov. 2018 One was Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was the epitome of a charismatic Cold Warrior. Wm. Roger Louis, WSJ, "‘Grand Improvisation’ Review: Rising Eagle, Wounded Lion," 16 Oct. 2018 Meghan, however, likes to keep things sleek and chic, and her reception gown appeared to be the epitome of her personal style. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "All the Details of Eugenie's Second Wedding Dress–Compared to Meghan Markle's," 14 Oct. 2018 Black women are told all their life that straight, long hair is the epitome of beauty. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "Sanaa Lathan: 'Natural Hair Is Beautiful, but It Should Be a Choice'," 21 Sep. 2018 Non-riders saw a swarm of locusts devouring precious inches of sidewalk and street, backed by companies that were the epitome of tech-bro arrogance. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Electric scooters’ sudden invasion of American cities, explained," 7 Sep. 2018 This is definitely not the first time that Dove and Thomas have been the epitome of couple goals. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Dove Cameron Shared Another Romantic Text From Thomas Doherty," 29 July 2018 If Jones sounds like the epitome of a player who’s loved as a teammate and loathed as an opponent, there’s a reason. Curtis Zupke, latimes.com, "Prospects for Kings, Ducks built tight bond on junior hockey squad," 6 July 2018 This station is like the epitome of the Roman Empire. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Sketching the M.T.A. with a Subway Archeologist," 30 Apr. 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

2 Dec 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

Comments on epitome

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a nest or breeding place

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