From Middle French épithète, from Latin, from Ancient Greek ἐπίθετον ‎(epítheton, adjective), the neuter of ἐπίθετος ‎(epíthetos, attributed, added), from ἐπιτιθέναι ‎(epitithénai, to add on), from ἐπι- ‎(epi-, in addition) + τιθέναι ‎(tithénai, to put) (from Proto-Indo-European *dhe- ‎(to put, to do)).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɛp.ɪ.θɛt/
  • Hyphenation: ep‧i‧thet


Examples (term to characterize)
  • the Terrible in Ivan the Terrible
Examples (descriptive substitute)
Examples (biology: part of scientific name of plants, fungi and bacteria)

epithet ‎(plural epithets)

  1. A term used to characterize a person or thing.
  2. A term used as a descriptive substitute for the name or title of a person.
  3. One of many formulaic words or phrases used in Iliad and the Odyssey to characterize a person, a group of people, or a thing.
  4. An abusive or contemptuous word or phrase.
    • 2006, Eric L. Goldstein, The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity‎:
      Part of this process was the elaboration of new terms for the Jew, especially the increasingly popular epithet “kike”.
  5. (taxonomy) A word in the scientific name of a taxon following the name of the genus or species. This applies only to formal names of plants, fungi and bacteria. In formal names of animals the corresponding term is the specific name.


See alsoEdit


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