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[ep-uh k or, esp. British, ee-pok] /ˈɛp ək or, esp. British, ˈi pɒk/
a particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc.:
The treaty ushered in an epoch of peace and good will.
the beginning of a distinctive period in the history of anything:
The splitting of the atom marked an epoch in scientific discovery.
a point of time distinguished by a particular event or state of affairs; a memorable date:
His coming of age was an epoch in his life.
Geology. any of several divisions of a geologic period during which a geologic series is formed.
Compare age (def 12).
  1. an arbitrarily fixed instant of time or date, usually the beginning of a century or half century, used as a reference in giving the elements of a planetary orbit or the like.
  2. the mean longitude of a planet as seen from the sun at such an instant or date.
Physics. the displacement from zero at zero time of a body undergoing simple harmonic motion.
Origin of epoch
1605-15; < New Latin epocha < Greek epochḗ pause, check, fixed time, equivalent to ep- ep- + och- (variant stem of échein to have) + noun suffix
Related forms
subepoch, noun
superepoch, noun
Can be confused
epic, epoch.
1. age, date, era, time.
Synonym Study
1. See age. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for epoch


a point in time beginning a new or distinctive period: the invention of nuclear weapons marked an epoch in the history of warfare
a long period of time marked by some predominant or typical characteristic; era
(astronomy) a precise date to which information, such as coordinates, relating to a celestial body is referred
(geology) a unit of geological time within a period during which a series of rocks is formed: the Pleistocene epoch
(physics) the displacement of an oscillating or vibrating body at zero time
Derived Forms
epochal (ˈɛpˌɒkəl) adjective
epochally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin epocha, from Greek epokhē cessation; related to ekhein to hold, have
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 epoch

1610s, epocha, "point marking the start of a new period in time" (e.g. the founding of Rome, the birth of Christ, the Hegira), from Late Latin epocha, from Greek epokhe "stoppage, fixed point of time," from epekhein "to pause, take up a position," from epi "on" (see epi-) + ekhein "to hold" (see scheme (n.)). Transferred sense of "a period of time" is 1620s; geological usage (not a precise measurement) is from 1802.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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epoch in Science
  (ěp'ək, ē'pŏk')   
The shortest division of geologic time. An epoch is a subdivision of a period.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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