1 a : a summary of a written work
b : a brief presentation or statement of something
2 : a typical or ideal example : embodiment
Did You Know?
"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.
The cabin we'd rented was the epitome of country charm: wide pine floors, simple sturdy furniture, and clean linen curtains billowing in the breeze of the open windows.
"He was the epitome of a new kind of cool, he was hilarious, a visionary, talented on so many different levels from music to film." - Pop singer Santigold on Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, as quoted by Dan DeLuca on Philly.com, May 7, 2012
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Word Family Quiz
What descendent of "temnein" refers to the smallest particle of an element that can exist either alone or in combination? The answer is ...
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