[ep-uhk or, esp. British, ee-pok]


a particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc.: The treaty ushered in an epoch of peace and good will.
the beginning of a distinctive period in the history of anything: The splitting of the atom marked an epoch in scientific discovery.
a point of time distinguished by a particular event or state of affairs; a memorable date: His coming of age was an epoch in his life.
Geology. any of several divisions of a geologic period during which a geologic series is formed.Compare age(def 12).
  1. an arbitrarily fixed instant of time or date, usually the beginning of a century or half century, used as a reference in giving the elements of a planetary orbit or the like.
  2. the mean longitude of a planet as seen from the sun at such an instant or date.
Physics. the displacement from zero at zero time of a body undergoing simple harmonic motion.

Origin of epoch

1605–15; < New Latin epocha < Greek epochḗ pause, check, fixed time, equivalent to ep- ep- + och- (variant stem of échein to have) + noun suffix
Related formssub·ep·och, nounsu·per·ep·och, noun
Can be confusedepic epoch

Synonyms for epoch

1. age, date, era, time.

Synonym study

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

Related Words for epoch

date, age, span, era, time

Examples from the Web for epoch

Contemporary Examples of epoch

Historical Examples of epoch

  • The mail, at this epoch, was very different from what it is at present.

  • No epoch of time can claim a copyright in these immortal fables.

    The Gorgon's Head

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • But in this country and at this epoch this is exactly what it has not got.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • But at that epoch I did not admire anything belonging to the Germans.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • With this, the second epoch of the history of Freeland may be regarded as closed.


    Theodor Hertzka

British Dictionary definitions for epoch



a point in time beginning a new or distinctive periodthe invention of nuclear weapons marked an epoch in the history of warfare
a long period of time marked by some predominant or typical characteristic; era
astronomy a precise date to which information, such as coordinates, relating to a celestial body is referred
geology a unit of geological time within a period during which a series of rocks is formedthe Pleistocene epoch
physics the displacement of an oscillating or vibrating body at zero time
Derived Formsepochal (ˈɛpˌɒkəl), adjectiveepochally, adverb

Word Origin for epoch

C17: from New Latin epocha, from Greek epokhē cessation; related to ekhein to hold, have
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 epoch

1610s, epocha, "point marking the start of a new period in time" (e.g. the founding of Rome, the birth of Christ, the Hegira), from Late Latin epocha, from Greek epokhe "stoppage, fixed point of time," from epekhein "to pause, take up a position," from epi "on" (see epi-) + ekhein "to hold" (see scheme (n.)). Transferred sense of "a period of time" is 1620s; geological usage (not a precise measurement) is from 1802.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

epoch in Science


[ĕpək, ēpŏk′]

The shortest division of geologic time. An epoch is a subdivision of a period.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.