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epigram

[ep-i-gram]
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noun
  1. any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed.
  2. epigrammatic expression: Oscar Wilde had a genius for epigram.
  3. a short, often satirical poem dealing concisely with a single subject and usually ending with a witty or ingenious turn of thought.
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Origin of epigram

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin epigramma < Greek epígramma inscription, epigram. See epi-, -gram1
Can be confusedepigram epigraph epitaph epithet

Synonyms

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1. witticism, quip, bon mot.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for epigram

Historical Examples

  • Oddly enough, this last Cockney epigram clings to my memory.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • It is sometimes an epigram, and at worst it is never a quotation.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • It's a common melodrama with bits of wit and epigram stuck on to it!

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • The epigram, with its faint whiff of the eighties, meant nothing.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • I remember his epigram: 'Once I was the son of my father; now I am the father of my son.'


British Dictionary definitions for epigram

epigram

noun
  1. a witty, often paradoxical remark, concisely expressed
  2. a short, pungent, and often satirical poem, esp one having a witty and ingenious ending
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Derived Formsepigrammatic, adjectiveepigrammatically, adverb

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for epigram

n.

mid-15c., from Middle French épigramme, from Latin epigramma "an inscription," from Greek epigramma "an inscription, epitaph, epigram," from epigraphein "to write on, inscribe" (see epigraph). Related: Epigrammatist.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

epigram in Culture

epigram

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

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Note

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.”

Note

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.