[ ep-i-gram ]
/ ˈɛp ɪˌgræm /


any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed.
epigrammatic expression: Oscar Wilde had a genius for epigram.
a short, often satirical poem dealing concisely with a single subject and usually ending with a witty or ingenious turn of thought.

Origin of epigram

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin epigramma < Greek epígramma inscription, epigram. See epi-, -gram1

Can be confused

epigram epigraph epitaph epithet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for epigram

British Dictionary definitions for epigram


/ (ˈɛpɪˌɡræm) /


a witty, often paradoxical remark, concisely expressed
a short, pungent, and often satirical poem, esp one having a witty and ingenious ending

Derived Forms

epigrammatic, adjectiveepigrammatically, adverb

Word Origin for epigram

C15: from Latin epigramma, from Greek: inscription, from epigraphein to write upon, from graphein to write
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

Culture definitions for epigram


Any pithy, witty saying or short poem. An aphorism can serve as an epigram, if it is brief.


Several authors are noted for their epigrams, including Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde. One of Wilde's epigrams is “I can resist everything except temptation.”


Two other words are similar: an epigraph is usually an inscription, as on a statue; an epitaph can be such an inscription or it can be a brief literary note commemorating a dead person.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.