[ ep-uh-thet ]
/ ˈɛp əˌθɛt /


any word or phrase applied to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality: “Richard the Lion-Hearted” is an epithet of Richard I.
a characterizing word or phrase firmly associated with a person or thing and often used in place of an actual name, title, or the like, as “man's best friend” for “dog.”
a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc.

Origin of epithet

1570–80; < Latin epitheton epithet, adjective < Greek epítheton epithet, something added, equivalent to epi- epi- + the- (variant stem of tithénai to put) + -ton neuter verbid suffix

Related forms

ep·i·thet·ic, ep·i·thet·i·cal, adjective

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 epithet

British Dictionary definitions for epithet


/ (ˈɛpɪˌθɛt) /


a descriptive word or phrase added to or substituted for a person's name"Lackland" is an epithet for King John

Derived Forms

epithetic or epithetical, adjective

Word Origin for epithet

C16: from Latin epitheton, from Greek, from epitithenai to add, from tithenai to put
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