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 Many of those who criticized Prime Minister Sánchez for his failure to mitigate the crisis saw that day as the epitome of government negligence. Stephania Taladrid, The New Yorker, "From the Streets to the Nursing Homes: How Spain’s Coronavirus-Infection Rate Became One of the World’s Highest," 16 Apr. 2020 For centuries, Raphael’s art was idealized as the epitome of perfection, inspiring generations of artists, and the 120 autograph works on display — a mix of paintings and drawings — cement that reputation. Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times, "Rome Celebrates the Short, but Beautiful, Life of Raphael," 6 Mar. 2020 Adorned with black puffs and pompoms, the 3-year-old Siba was the absolute picture of what many see as the epitome of a show dog. Ben Walker, Anchorage Daily News, "Poodle perfection: Siba wins best in show at Westminster," 12 Feb. 2020 Adorned with black puffs and pompoms, the 3-year-old Siba was the absolute picture of what many see as the epitome of a show dog. CBS News, "Siba the standard poodle wins "Best in Show" at Westminster Dog Show," 12 Feb. 2020 For decades, this category was one of the only places in culture that these women were recognized as the epitome of beauty. Allure, "An Insider's Guide to the Breathtaking Beauty of the 2019 Porcelain Ball," 16 Oct. 2019 Moments after the verdict, African Americans took to social media and YouTube to express their surprise around a case some regarded as the epitome of how whites see black bodies as a threat. San Diego Union-Tribune, "White ex-officer’s guilty verdict stuns some black advocates," 1 Oct. 2019 Roberts spends a lot of time building layer upon layer of intimacy into their relationship, so their partnership is believable while still being the epitome of #couplegoals. Author: Sophia Rosenbaum, Anchorage Daily News, "5 things I learned from binge-reading a 50-book crime series," 18 Feb. 2020 Roberts spends a lot of time building layer upon layer of intimacy into their relationship, so their partnership is believable while still being the epitome of #couplegoals. Sophia Rosenbaum, USA TODAY, "5 things I learned from binge-reading a 50-book crime series in 5 months," 12 Feb. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of epitome was in 1520

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Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epitome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitome. Accessed 31 May. 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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