Revised as of:
30 Dec 2016
I have the hardest time remembering what that quote is called at the start of a chapter, and when I discovered epigraphs were getting confused with epigrams, epitaph, and epithet, I figured why not.
Epitaph is easy enough. It’s the words on a tombstone. Turns out an epithet was not quite as broad as I had thought. I assumed it was any swear words or nasty names to call people. Turns out it’s both more and less. The more is that it can be both a positive epithet as well as a negative one. It is also a label for how species are named with the epithet being the distinctive name. The negative side of what I learned about epithets (for me) is that it’s a group of words, a phrase, and not just a single word. Damn.
When it comes to the epigram and the epigraph, it’s a fine hair. Both are short lengths of inspiring text. The difference is that an an epigraph may be inscribed on a building, tablet, memorial, or used as part of the introduction to a chapter in a book while an epigram is the text that could be inscribed onto a building or tombstone.
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster|
|Part of Grammar:|
Plural for the noun: epigrams
Plural for the noun: epigraphs
Plural for the noun: epitaphs
Plural for the noun: epithets;
|Pithy saying or remark expressing an idea in a clever and amusing way
||Inscription on a building, statue, or coin
Music Lyrics CAUTION: Regarding fair use of musical lyrics, the actual songwriter to get written permission. You may have to pay for the use.
Poetry CAUTION: Regarding fair use of poetry in an epigraph, consult the Poetry Foundation. Be sure to include a credit to the poet and the poem’s title.
|Phrase or statement written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone||Adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned
Part of a scientific name identifying the species, variety, or other subunit within a genus
|“I can resist everything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde
“To see a world in a grain of sand,
|I love the epigraphs Jill Shalvis uses in her Lucky Harbor series!||Hardin Long, 1870–1937
Dear Departed Brother Dave, He chased a bear into a cave
“Here’s my wife: here let her lie! Now she’s at rest — and so am I.” – John Dryden
|Old men are often unfairly awarded the epithet “dirty”.
The woman begins to hurl racial epithets at them.
His charitable works have earned him the epithet “Mr. Philanthropy”.
Carl Linnæus came up with the epithet to make it easier to create unique names for plants.
|Adjective: epigraphic, epigraphical
|Adjective: epitaphic, epitaphless, unepitaphed
|Adjective: epithetic, epithetical|
|History of the Word:|
|Late Middle English from the French épigramme, the Latin epigramma, the Greek epi (upon, in addition) + gramma||Late 16th century denoting the heading of a document or letter and from the Greek epigraphē, which is from epigraphein, meaning to write on.||Late Middle English from the Old French epitaphe via Latin from the Greek epitaphion meaning funeral oration, the neuter of ephitaphios meaning over or at a tomb from epi (upon) + taphos (tomb).||Late 16th century from the French épithète, or via Latin from the Greek epitheton, neuter of epithetos meaning attributed from epitithenai meaning add which is from epi (upon) + tithenai to place.|
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!
Pinterest Photo Credits:
“Here Lies Fred” by devilelephant, via DIYLife and Pinterest.