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An epithet (Greek — ἐπίθετον and Latin — epitheton; literally meaning 'imposed') is a descriptive word or phrase that has become a fixed formula. It has various shades of meaning when applied to real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and biological nomenclature. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...



In linguistics, an epithet is often metaphoric, essentially a reduced or condensed appositive. Epithets are sometimes attached to a person's name or appear in place of their name, as what might be described as a glorified nickname. An epithet is linked to its noun by long-established usage and some are not otherwise employed. Not every adjective is an epithet, even worn clichés: an epithet is especially recognizable when its function is largely decorative, as when "cloud-gathering Zeus" is otherwise employed than in conjuring up a storm. "The epithets are decorative insofar as they are neither essential to the immediate context nor modelled especially for it. Among other things, they are extremely helpful to fill out a half-verse", Walter Burkert has noted.[1] For the journal, see Linguistics (journal). ... This article is about metaphor in literature and rhetoric. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Apposition. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Walter Burkert (born Neuendettelsau (Bavaria), February 2, 1931), the most eminent living scholar of Greek myth and cult, is an emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland who has also taught in the United Kingdom and the United States. ...

Some epithets are known by the Latin term epitheton necessarium because they are required to distinguish the bearers, e.g. as an alternative to ordinals after a prince's name — say Richard the Lionheart, or Charles the Fat alongside Charles the Bald. Still the same epithet can be used repeatedly, in different spheres of life and/or joined to different names, say Alexander the Great as well as Catherine the Great. Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England and ruler of the Angevin Empire from 6 July 1189 until his death. ... Romantic portrait of Charles. ... Charles the Bald[1] (numbered Charles II of France and the Holy Roman Emperor) (French: , German: ) (13 June 823 – 6 October 877), Holy Roman Emperor (875–877) and king of West Francia (840–877), was the youngest son of Emperor Louis the Pious, by his second wife Judith. ... For the film of the same name, see Alexander the Great (1956 film). ... Catherine the Great redirects here. ...

Other epithets can easily be omitted without serious risk of confusion, and are therefore known (again in Latin) as epitheton ornans; thus the classical Roman author Virgil systematically called the armsbearer of Aeneas, his main hero, fidus Achates, the epithet being fidus, which means faithful or loyal.

In contemporary usage, epithet is also used to refer to an abusive or defamatory phrase, such as a racial epithet. The following is a list of ethnic slurs, also known as ethnophaulisms, that are, or have been, used to refer to members of a given ethnicity (or, in some cases, nationality, region, or religion) in a derogatory or pejorative manner. ...

There are also specific types of epithets, such as the kenning which appears in works such as Beowulf. An example of a kenning would be the term whale-road, meaning "sea". In literature, a kenning is a poetic phrase, a figure of speech, substituted for the usual name of a person or thing. ... This article is about the epic poem. ... A term used in Beowulf, meaning sea. The line is translated as In the end each clan on the outlying coasts beyond the whale-road had to yield to him and begin to pay tribute. Using a metaphor in this way is called kenning. ...


Epithets are characteristic of the style of ancient epic poetry, notably in that of Homer or the northern European sagas. See above, as well as epithets in Homer. When James Joyce uses the phrase "the snot-green sea" he is playing on Homer's familiar epithet "the wine-dark sea". Also the phrase "Discreet Telemachus" is considered an epithet. The epic is a broadly defined genre of narrative poetry, characterized by great length, multiple settings, large numbers of characters, or long span of time involved. ... For other uses, see Homer (disambiguation). ... Epithets in Homer. ... This article is about the writer and poet. ...

  • the Greek term Antonomasia, in rhetoric, means substituting any epithet or phrase for a proper name, as Pelides, or the son of Peleus, for Achilles; the opposite substitution of a proper name for some generic term is also sometimes called antonomasia, as Cicero for an orator.

Antonomasia is a rhetoric device: the substitution of any epithet or phrase for a proper name; the opposite substitution of a proper name for some generic term is also sometimes called antonomasia. ...


In many polytheistic religions, such as in ancient Greek and Roman religions, a deity's epithets, easily multiplied in the practice of cultus generally reflected a particular aspect of that god's essence and role, for which their influence may be obtained for a specific occasion: Apollo Musagetes is "Apollo, [as] leader of the Muses" and therefore patron of the arts and sciences[2] while Phoibos Apollo is the same deity, but as shining sun-god. "Athena protects the city as polias, oversees handicrafts as ergane, joins battle as promachos and grants victory as nike."[3] Polytheism is belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. ... In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings (scriptures), its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. ... For other uses, see Apollo (disambiguation). ... For the rock band, see Muse (band). ... The Athena Promachos (she who fights in the front line) was a colossal bronze statue which stood between the Propylaia and the Parthenon on the acropolis of Athens. ...

Alternatively the epithet may identify a particular and localized aspect of the god, sometimes already ancient during the classical epochs of Greece or Rome, such as a reference to the mythological place of birth or numinous presence at a specific sanctuary: sacrifice might be offered on one and the same occasion to Pythian Apollo (Apollo Pythios) and Delphic Apollo (Apollo Delios). A localizing epithet refers simply to a particular center of veneration and the cultic tradition there, as the god manifested at a particular festival, for example: Zeus Olympios, Zeus as present at Olympia, or Apollo Karneios, Apollo at the Spartan Carneian festival. Numina (presence, singular numen) conveys the sense of immanence, of the sacred spirit that informs places and objects in Roman religion. ... The Carneian festival (Κάρνεια) was one of the most important religious festivals in ancient Sparta and other Dorian cities, held in honor of Apollo Carneios, who was worshipped in various parts of the Peloponnesus. ...

Often the epithet is the result of fusion of the Olympian divinity with an older one: Poseidon Erechtheus, Artemis Orthia, reflect intercultural equations of a divinity with an older one, that is generally considered its pendant; thus most Roman gods and goddesses, especially the Twelve Olympians, had traditional counterparts in Greek, Etruscan, and most other Mediterranean pantheons, e.g. Jupiter as head of the Olympian Gods with Zeus, but in specific cult places there may even be a different equation, based on one specific aspect of the divinity. Thus the Greek word Trismegistos "thrice grand" was first used as a Greek name for the Egyptian god of science and invention, Thot, and later as an epitheton for the Greek Hermes and, finally, the fully equated Roman Mercurius (Mercury; both were also messenger of the gods). Among the Greeks, T. H. Price notes[4]the nurturing power of Kourotrophos might be invoked in sacrifices and recorded in inscription, without specifically identifying Hera or Demeter. In Greek mythology, Erectheus was an early king of Athens. ... Orientation map for the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia was one of the most important religious sites in the Greek city of Sparta[1]. // The Sanctuary The cult of Orthia was common in the four villages originally constituting Sparta: Limnai, Pitana, Kynosoura and Mesoa. ... Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon (Greek: Δωδεκάθεον < δωδεκα, dodeka, twelve + θεον, theon, of the gods), in Greek religion, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. ... For the planet see Jupiter. ... For other uses, see Zeus (disambiguation). ... Thoth, pronounced tot, is the Greek name given to the Egyptian god of the moon (lunar deity), wisdom, writing, magic, and measurement of time, among other things. ... For other uses, see Hermes (disambiguation). ... A sculpture of the Roman god Mercury by 17th-century Flemish artist Artus Quellinus. ... For other uses, see Hera (disambiguation). ... This article is about the grain goddess Demeter. ...

Some epithets were applied to several deities of a same pantheon, rather accidentally if they had a common characteristic, or deliberately emphasizing their blood- or other ties; thus in pagan Rome, several divinities (including demi-gods, heroes) were given the epitheton Comes as companion of another (usually major) divinity. An epithet can even be meant for collective use, e.g. in Latin pilleati 'the felt hat-wearers' for the brothers Castor and Pollux. Some epithets resist explanation.[5] Comes,itis (genitive: comitis) is the Latin word for companion, either individually or as a member of a collective known as comitatus (compare comitatenses), especially the suite of a magnate, in some cases large and/or formal enough to have a specific name, such as a cohors amicorum. ... Kastor redirects here. ...

Similar practices still exist in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity in the veneration of Christ and, mainly, of the saints. "Our Lady of Lourdes" is essentially periphrasis, unless some aspect of the Virgin were being invoked. The apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes began when Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year old peasant girl from Lourdes, when questioned by her mother, admitted that she had seen a lady in the cave of Massabielle, about a mile from the town, on 11 February 1858, while she was gathering... Periphrasis, like its Latin counterpart circumlocution, is a figure of speech where the meaning of a word or phrase is indirectly expressed through several or many words. ...

Politics and military

In historical, journalistic, and other writings, one often encounters epitheta, but it is worthwhile distinguishing different types. While the same rationale as in the genealogical section above may apply, in some cases posthumously politicians, unlike ordinary citizens, often have some control over public opinion and generally more of an interest in their image, so whether forged for themselves or contrived by opponents, their epitheta often carry a political message.

Indeed while these differ from official titles as they don't express any legal status, epitheta have been awarded and adopted (though the official procedure may provide for the formal decision to be issued by another institution, such as a legislative assembly) by statesmen in power for fairly formal use, not unsimilar in purpose to various sinecures, knighthoods or peerage-type titles in post-feudal societies: they confer prestige without any legal authority, so essentially a matter of image or even propaganda, aimed at a domestic and/or foreign target audience. Examples of such epithets are the various traditions of victory titles (see there) awarded to meritous generals and rulers since Antiquity, and the epithets awarded to entire units, e.g. such adjectives as 'Fidelis' 'loyal' to various Roman legions. A victory title is an honorific title adopted by a successful military commander to commemorate his defeat of an enemy nation. ...

Biological nomenclature

In botanical nomenclature, an epithet may be the part of the botanical name that designates the species of a genus, or sub-species: in two and three part names, the epithet will follow the name of the genus or the name of the species, respectively. This occurs in the name of a species (consisting of a generic name plus a "specific epithet"), of a subdivision of the genus, or of an infraspecific taxon, such as a variety. Epithets exist not only in the ICBN, but also in later Codes inspired by this such as the ICNCP and the ICNB. Botanical nomenclature Plants are given formal names, governed by the ICBN. Within the limits set by the ICBN there is a separate set of rules, the ICNCP, for those plants in cultivation that require separate recognition, so-called cultivars. ... A botanical name is a formal name conforming to the ICBN. As with its zoological and bacterial equivalents it may also be called a scientific name. Botanical names may be in one part (genus and above), two parts (species) or three parts (below the rank of species). ... For other uses, see Genus (disambiguation). ... In botanical nomenclature, the ICBN prescribes a two-part name or binary name for any taxon below the rank of genus down to, and including the rank of species. ... In botanical nomenclature, the ICBN prescribes a three part name (ternary name) for any taxon below the rank of species. ... For other uses, see Species (disambiguation). ... In biological nomenclature, a generic name or the name of a genus (sometimes genus name) is the name of a genus. ... A specific epithet is a biological epithet of a species. ... For other uses, see Genus (disambiguation). ... In botanical nomenclature, an infraspecific taxon is a taxon at a rank below that of species (i. ... In botanical nomenclature, variety is a rank below that of species: As such, it gets a ternary name (a name in three parts). ... The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is the set of rules according to which plants are given their formal botanical names (scientific names). ... The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) regulates the naming of cultivars, cultivar Groups and graft-chimaeras. ... The International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria governs the scientific names for bacteria. ...


  • Arisaema candidissimum — here, candidissimum is the epithet.
  • Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa — both edulis and flavicarpa are epithets.

In zoology the term epithet can be applied to both terms in the binomial nomenclature, first the genus name as generic epithet, second to specify the individual animal species the specific epithet. the passion fruit is freinds with santa had comes from ice land and it is reinderes faviout fruit {Taxobox | color = lightgreen | name = Passion fruit | image = Maracuyá.jpg | image_width = 250px | image_caption = Ripe yellow passion fruit, or maracuyá | regnum = Plantae | divisio = Magnoliophyta | classis = Magnoliopsida | ordo = Malpighiales | familia = Passifloraceae | genus = Passiflora | species = P... Zoology (from Greek: ζῴον, zoion, animal; and λόγος, logos, knowledge) is the biological discipline which involves the study of animals. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Genus (disambiguation). ...

Casual usage

In casual usage, epithet also means a derogatory word or phrase used to insult someone although this euphemistic use is discredited by Martin Manser[6] and other prescriptive linguists.


  1. ^ W. Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture of the Early Archaic Age 1992, p 116.
  2. ^ Hence the word mouseion= museum)
  3. ^ Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (Harvard University Press, 1985) III.4.4. "The special character of Greek anthropomorphism", especially p. 184.
  4. ^ Price, Kourotrophos, 1978, noted by Burkert 1985:184.
  5. ^ Burkert 1985:184.
  6. ^ Manser, Martin H. (2007), Good Word Guide sixth edition, A&C Black, 147 ISBN 978-0-7136-7759-1

For other uses, see Museum (disambiguation). ...

See also

A bahuvrihi (बहुवृहि), or bahuvrihi compound, is a particular kind of compound word that refers to something that is not specified by any of its parts by themselves (i. ... The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans. ... It has been suggested that Nicknames of European Royalty and Nobility be merged into this article or section. ... This list has been split into smaller lists: List of nicknames of European Royalty and Nobility: A-C List of nicknames of European Royalty and Nobility: D-F List of nicknames of European Royalty and Nobility: G-I List of nicknames of European Royalty and Nobility: J-L List of... Image File history File links Question_book-3. ...

  Results from FactBites:
The UVic Writer's Guide: Epithet (86 words)
An epithet is an adjective or adjectival phrase describing a characteristic quality of a person or thing.
For instance, in Homer's Odyssey (eighth century B.C.) the hero is typically referred to by the epithets "enduring," "resourceful," or "sacker of cities"; and the sea is always "wine-dark."
An epithet is also an identifying phrase which substitutes for a noun, such as Pope's reference to scissors as "the fatal engine" in his mock-epic "The Rape of the Lock" (1714).
The Book of THoTH (Leaves of Wisdom) - Epithet (844 words)
In linguistics an epithet is often metaphoric, essentially a reduced or condensed appositive.
Epithets are characteristic of the style of ancient epic poetry, most notably that of Homer.
Some epithets were applied to several deities of a same pantheon, rather accidentally if they had a common characteristic, or deliberately emphasizing their blood- or other ties; thus in pagan Rome, several divinities (including demi-gods, heroes) were given the epitheton Comes as companion of another (usually major) divinity.
  More results at FactBites »



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