[ ep-uh-thet ]
See synonyms for: epithetepithetical on Thesaurus.com

  1. 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.

  2. 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.”

  1. a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc.: He demeans his female employees by addressing them with sexist epithets.

  2. Botany, Zoology. specific epithet.

Origin of epithet

First recorded in 1570–80; from Latin epitheton “adjective; word used attributively,” from Greek epítheton “something added, adjective, epithet,” derivative of epitithénai “to place upon, put upon,” equivalent to epi- + the- (variant stem of tithénai “to put, place”) + -ton neuter participle suffix; see epi-

Other words for epithet

Other words from epithet

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

Words that may be confused with epithet

Words Nearby epithet

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use epithet in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for epithet


/ (ˈɛpɪˌθɛt) /

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

Origin of epithet

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

Derived forms of epithet

  • epithetic or epithetical, adjective

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