ep·​och | \ ˈe-pək How to pronounce epoch (audio) , ˈe-ˌpäk, US also and British usually ˈē-ˌpäk How to pronounce epoch (audio) \

Definition of epoch

1a : an event or a time marked by an event that begins a new period or development
b : a memorable event or date
2a : an extended period of time usually characterized by a distinctive development or by a memorable series of events
b : a division of geologic time less than a period and greater than an age
3 : an instant of time or a date selected as a point of reference (as in astronomy)

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Synonyms for epoch


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period, epoch, era, age mean a division of time. period may designate an extent of time of any length. periods of economic prosperity epoch applies to a period begun or set off by some significant or striking quality, change, or series of events. the steam engine marked a new epoch in industry era suggests a period of history marked by a new or distinct order of things. the era of global communications age is used frequently of a fairly definite period dominated by a prominent figure or feature. the age of Samuel Johnson

Did You Know?

Epoch comes to us, via Medieval Latin, from Greek epochē, meaning "cessation" or "fixed point." "Epochē," in turn, comes from the Greek verb epechein, meaning "to pause" or "to hold back." When "epoch" was first borrowed into English, it referred to the fixed point used to mark the beginning of a system of chronology. That sense is now obsolete, but today "epoch" is used in some fields (such as astronomy) with the meaning "an instant of time or a date selected as a point of reference." The "an event or a time that begins a new period or development" sense first appeared in print in the early 17th century, and "epoch" has been applied to defining moments or periods of time ever since.

Examples of epoch in a Sentence

The Civil War era was an epoch in 19th-century U.S. history. The development of the steam engine marked an important epoch in the history of industry.
Recent Examples on the Web Bandleader Dweezil Zappa has spent over a decade recreating the undiluted ensemble concerts of his father’s epoch. oregonlive, "29 February concerts to love for Portland’s best live music," 28 Jan. 2020 That was the epoch of Tide football spearheaded by the Mikes — DuBose, Price and Shula with a dash of Dennis Franchione added into a wan mix of uninspired, sometimes scandalous leadership at the dawn of this century. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "That time Michigan's Jim Harbaugh nearly settled his feud with SEC apologist Paul Finebaum," 30 Dec. 2019 Thus did gin itself, during the craze of the eighteenth century, bear echoes of the lusts and the gross inequalities of the epoch. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Intoxicating History of Gin," 2 Dec. 2019 Learning more about this early epoch is the key to many of the most pressing conundrums in physics: What is dark matter? Andrea Gawrylewski, Scientific American, "Recommended Books, December 2019," 30 Nov. 2019 Betting big on the fallout from epoch-making events, like the fall of the Berlin Wall, is George Soros’s preferred tactic. The Economist, "A life’s rich tapestry How Jim Simons became the most successful investor of all time," 14 Nov. 2019 The contours of such an epoch are already becoming visible through the smoke. Stephen Pyne, Quartz, "The Earth could be entering a planetary fire age," 10 Nov. 2019 The contours of such an epoch are already becoming visible through the smoke. Stephen Pyne, The Conversation, "California wildfires signal the arrival of a planetary fire age," 1 Nov. 2019 The rise of the internet is an epoch-making phenomenon, a phenomenon that has transformed so much of our contemporary world—for better and for worse. Washington Post, "Flirting online and relationship troubles go hand-in-hand, even if no one finds out, new research shows," 6 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epoch.' 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 epoch

1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for epoch

Medieval Latin epocha, from Greek epochē cessation, fixed point, from epechein to pause, hold back, from epi- + echein to hold — more at scheme entry 1

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The first known use of epoch was in 1614

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Last Updated

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Epoch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epoch. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for epoch


How to pronounce epoch (audio) How to pronounce epoch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of epoch

: a period of time that is very important in history


ep·​och | \ ˈe-pək How to pronounce epoch (audio) \

Kids Definition of epoch

: a period that is important or memorable

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More from Merriam-Webster on epoch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for epoch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with epoch

Spanish Central: Translation of epoch

Nglish: Translation of epoch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of epoch for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about epoch

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