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

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 any 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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web Russell was agile, Chamberlain the epitome of strength and power. New York Times, 31 July 2022 For travelers yearning for a tropical escape, overwater villas are the epitome of vacation goals. Katie Lockhart, CNN, 11 July 2022 With traditional plans under the Affordable Care Act, even if an employer group is the epitome of health and has zero health care claims, they are not allowed to capture the benefits of their hard work. David Reid, Forbes, 15 July 2022 Cucinelli may require a significant investment, true, but quality as quality is quality: and BC represents the epitome of farm to table Italian style. Tom Stubbs, Vogue, 14 June 2022 The Logan Memorial campus represents the epitome of a push by San Diego Unified over the past decade to get more students to attend schools in their own neighborhoods. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Apr. 2022 Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old on trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for shooting three people and killing two of them, represents the epitome of White privilege in America run amok. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 12 Nov. 2021 Ten Sleep, Wyoming, is not only the epitome of small town USA, its brewery sports one of the most unique views on the map. Fox News, 7 July 2022 While the football team brings in an influx of new talent with transfers and recruits, Mitchell is the epitome of homegrown success. Shreyas Laddha, Hartford Courant, 6 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About epitome

Time Traveler for epitome

Time Traveler

The first known use of epitome was in 1520

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near epitome

epitomator

epitome

epitomise

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for epitome

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Epitome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitome. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on epitome

Nglish: Translation of epitome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of epitome for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!