Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Epitome

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is epitome. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Epitome means “a typical or ideal example,” and is a synonym of embodiment.

// The cabin we rented was the epitome of country charm: wide pine floors, simple sturdy furniture, and clean linen curtains billowing in the breeze of the open windows.

EPITOME in Context

“How do you embody a living legend who is the epitome of style and grace such as Dionne Warwick? After social media fueled rumors about their resemblance, [Teyana] Taylor has teamed up with the icon to direct and star in a limited scripted television series about Warwick’s life.” — Savannah Taylor, Ebony, 19 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

Epitome first appeared in print in the early 16th century, when it was used to mean “summary.” If someone asks you to summarize a long paper, you effectively cut it up, mentioning only the most important ideas, and the etymology of epitome reflects this process: it comes from Greek epitemnein, meaning “to cut short.” Your summary probably also presents all the key points of the original work, which may explain why epitome eventually came to be used for any person or object that is a clear or good example of an abstraction, as in “the epitome of grace” or “the epitome of health.” We could go on and on… or could we?

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