[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. epithelioma cuniculatum,
  2. epitheliomatous,
  3. epitheliomuscular,
  4. epithelium,
  5. epithelization,
  6. epitome,
  7. epitomise,
  8. epitomist,
  9. epitomize,
  10. epitope

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

Can be confusedepigram epigraph epitaph epithet

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

British Dictionary definitions for epithetical


/ (ˈɛpɪˌθɛt) /


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

Word Origin and History for epithetical



1570s, "descriptive name for a person or thing," from Middle French épithète or directly from Latin epitheton, from Greek epitheton "something added," adjective often used as noun, from neuter of epithetos "attributed, added," from epitithenai "to add on," from epi "in addition" (see epi-) + tithenai "to put" (see factitious).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper