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[ep-ik] /ˈɛp ɪk/
adjective, Also, epical
noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style:
Homer's Iliad is an epic poem.
resembling or suggesting such poetry:
an epic novel on the founding of the country.
heroic; majestic; impressively great:
the epic events of the war.
of unusually great size or extent:
a crime wave of epic proportions.
Slang. spectacular; very impressive; awesome:
Their burgers and fries are epic!
Slang. very; extremely:
That's an epic cool video!
an epic poem.
epic poetry.
any composition resembling an epic.
something worthy to form the subject of an epic:
The defense of the Alamo is an American epic.
(initial capital letter). Also called Old Ionic. the Greek dialect represented in the Iliad and the Odyssey, apparently Aeolic modified by Ionic.
Origin of epic
1580-90; < Latin epicus < Greek epikós. See epos, -ic
Related forms
epically, adverb
epiclike, adjective
nonepic, adjective, noun
nonepical, adjective
nonepically, adverb
semiepic, adjective, noun
semiepical, adjective
semiepically, adverb
superepic, adjective, noun
unepic, adjective
Can be confused
epic, epoch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for epical
Historical Examples
  • "Saul," as an epical subject, must have haunted his mind for years.

  • Story he has none to tell; by contrast Henry James is epical.

    Egoists James Huneker
  • He was essentially a lyrical as distinguished from an epical or dramatic poet.

    Renaissance in Italy Vol. 3 John Addington Symonds
  • Thus mediæval play is epical in its Rabelaisian plainness of speech.

    Unicorns James Huneker
  • But, to keep to the simile, has this epical poem the unity of ocean?

    Life of Robert Browning William Sharp
  • Even prim President Thiers tried to kiss her and her indignation was epical.

    Unicorns James Huneker
  • Many a time before had Arina Petrovna regaled her children with the epical beginnings of her career of acquisition.

    A Family of Noblemen Mikhal Saltykov
  • In other words, it must have an epical element as well as a dramatic.

    The Age of Dryden Richard Garnett
  • Perhaps, my dear, you write lyrics, and your cousin hath more fancy for epical poetry.

    The Maidens' Lodge Emily Sarah Holt
  • But the most remarkable point of contact between Drayton and Theocritus is that both are epical as well as pastoral poets.

    The Battaile of Agincourt Michael Drayton
British Dictionary definitions for epical


a long narrative poem recounting in elevated style the deeds of a legendary hero, esp one originating in oral folk tradition
the genre of epic poetry
any work of literature, film, etc, having heroic deeds for its subject matter or having other qualities associated with the epic: a Hollywood epic
an episode in the lives of men in which heroic deeds are performed or attempted: the epic of Scott's expedition to the South Pole
denoting, relating to, or characteristic of an epic or epics
of heroic or impressive proportions: an epic voyage
Word Origin
C16: from Latin epicus, from Greek epikos, from epos speech, word, song
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for epical



1580s, perhaps via Middle French épique or directly from Latin epicus, from Greek epikos, from epos "word, story, poem," from PIE *wekw- "to speak" (see voice). Extended sense of "grand, heroic" first recorded in English 1731. The noun meaning "an epic poem" is first recorded 1706.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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epical in Culture

epic definition

A long narrative poem written in elevated style, in which heroes of great historical or legendary importance perform valorous deeds. The setting is vast in scope, covering great nations, the world, or the universe, and the action is important to the history of a nation or people. The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid are some great epics from world literature, and two great epics in English are Beowulf and Paradise Lost.

Note: Figuratively, any task of great magnitude may be called “epic,” as in an “epic feat” or an “epic undertaking.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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