• synonyms


[ep-i-graf, -grahf]
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  1. an inscription, especially on a building, statue, or the like.
  2. an apposite quotation at the beginning of a book, chapter, etc.
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Origin of epigraph

First recorded in 1615–25, epigraph is from the Greek word epigraphḗ inscription. See epi-, -graph
Can be confusedepigram epigraph epitaph epithet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for epigraph


  1. a quotation at the beginning of a book, chapter, etc, suggesting its theme
  2. an inscription on a monument or building
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Derived Formsepigraphic (ˌɛpɪˈɡræfɪk) or epigraphical, adjectiveepigraphically, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Greek epigraphē; see epigram
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 epigraph


1620s, "inscription on a building, statue, etc.," from Greek epigraphe "an inscription," from epigraphein "to write on," from epi "on" (see epi-) + graphein "to write" (see -graphy). Sense of "motto; short, pithy sentence at the head of a book or chapter" first recorded in English 1844.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper