epigram vs epigraph vs epitaph vs epithet : Common Errors in English

About epigram vs epigraph vs epitaph vs epithet

An epigram is a pithy saying, usually humorous. Mark Twain was responsible for many striking, mostly cynical epigrams, such as “Always do right. That will gratify some of the people, and astonish the rest.” Unfortunately, he was also responsible for an even more famous one that has been confusing people ever since: “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” It’s true that the moon keeps one side away from the earth, but—if you don’t count the faint glow reflected from the earth—it is not any darker than the side that faces us. In fact, over time, the side facing us is darkened slightly more often because it is occasionally eclipsed by the shadow of the earth.An epigraph is a brief quotation used to introduce a piece of writing (see from Shakespeare) or the inscription on a statue or building. An epitaph is the inscription on a tombstone or some other tribute to a dead person. In literature, an epithet is a term that replaces or is added to the name of a person, like “clear-eyed Athena,” in which “clear-eyed” is the epithet. You are more likely to encounter the term in its negative sense, as a term of insult or abuse: “the shoplifter hurled epithets at the guard who had arrested her.”

epigram Meaning(s)

  • (n) a witty saying

epigraph Meaning(s)

  • (n) a quotation at the beginning of some piece of writing
  • (n) an engraved inscription

epitaph Meaning(s)

  • (n) an inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried there
  • (n) a summary statement of commemoration for a dead person

epithet Meaning(s)

  • (n) a defamatory or abusive word or phrase
  • (n) descriptive word or phrase

epigram in News

  • Snobbish? Yes, but at least we're tidy

    Travel and Leisure magazine has declared the Twin Cities to be the fourth most snobbish city in America. I’m tempted to respond with a dismissive French epigram, but they probably wouldn’t get it.
    on July 7, 2013 Source: Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

epitaph in News

  1. ‘Game’ for a shock

    Are “Game of Thrones” fans the best in the world? One week ago, millions were astonished when Robb Stark (Richard Madden), his pregnant wife Talisa (Oona Chaplin) and his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) were slaughtered at a wedding reception. The words “The Lannisters send their regards” might just be the most chilling epitaph this season. And now we know: If someone is wearing chain mail ...
    on June 9, 2013 Source: Boston Herald

  2. The Coup's Facebook Problem: It Wasn't Censorship

    On Monday, The Coup's label Epitaph Records attempted to purchase a sponsored Facebook post to promote its new video for "The Magic Clap" (which is awesome, BTW) — and today, the Oakland hip-hop outfit's leader Boots Riley wrote on his Facebook page that he thought the site was censoring the video because of its political message. It turns out, according to Facebook, it was not a case of ...
    on June 8, 2013 Source: East Bay Express

epithet in News

  • Out in the Tropics has evolved along with gay rights

    Once a bigoted epithet, “queer” was reclaimed by the gay-rights movement as a proudly defiant self-description. But theater artist Taylor Mac, who will perform in the annual Out in the Tropics festival this week, prefers another definition: “Someone who was ostracized by society at an early age to such a degree they could never ostracize anyone else.”
    on June 11, 2013 Source: Miami Herald

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