[ ep-i-taf, -tahf ]
/ ˈɛp ɪˌtæf, -ˌtɑf /


a commemorative inscription on a tomb or mortuary monument about the person buried at that site.
a brief poem or other writing in praise of a deceased person.

verb (used with object)

to commemorate in or with an epitaph.

Nearby words

  1. epistrophe,
  2. epistropheus,
  3. epistyle,
  4. episyllogism,
  5. epit.,
  6. epitasis,
  7. epitaxial transistor,
  8. epitaxis,
  9. epitaxy,
  10. epitendineum

Origin of epitaph

1350–1400; Middle English epitaphe < Latin epitaphium < Greek epitáphion over or at a tomb, equivalent to epi- epi- + táph(os) tomb + -ion noun, adj. suffix

Related formsep·i·taph·ic [ep-i-taf-ik] /ˌɛp ɪˈtæf ɪk/, adjectiveep·i·taph·ist, nounep·i·taph·less, adjectiveun·ep·i·taphed, adjective

Can be confusedepigram epigraph epitaph epithet

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for epitaph

British Dictionary definitions for epitaph


/ (ˈɛpɪˌtɑːf, -ˌtæf) /


a commemorative inscription on a tombstone or monument
a speech or written passage composed in commemoration of a dead person
a final judgment on a person or thing
Derived Formsepitaphic (ˌɛpɪˈtæfɪk), adjectiveepitaphist, noun

Word Origin for epitaph

C14: via Latin from Greek epitaphion, from epitaphios over a tomb, from epi- + taphos tomb

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 epitaph



mid-14c., from Old French epitaphe (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin epitaphium "funeral oration, eulogy," from Greek epitaphion "a funeral oration," noun use of neuter of epitaphos "of a funeral," from epi "at, over" (see epi-) + taphos "tomb, funeral rites," from PIE root *dhembh- "to bury." Among the Old English equivalents was byrgelsleoð.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper