V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary



Definition: 1. an insulting word or phrase; 2. a descriptive word or phrase used as a nickname or in conjunction with a person's name

Synonyms: insult, nickname, label, appellation, description, designation

Antonyms: compliment

Tips: The negative definition of epithet, an insult, is the more commonly used definition in business and politics. You may hear someone say "racial epithet," which combines both definitions of insult and nickname to describe a racial slur or a racially insensitive word or name. Greek mythology gave gods and heroes descriptive epithets, such as Poseidon's "Earth Shaker." Our own Abraham Lincoln became known as "the Great Emancipator." In literature, an adjective or group of adjectives that captures main characteristics of an object or person is known as an epithet.

Usage Examples:

He was a known racist and bigot, who often made racial epithets when describing people. (insults)

The car sped by, with its rude inhabitant shouting epithets at our slower vehicle. (insults)

Charles Dickens was a master in the use of epithets, like "Tiny Tim," to make images come to life more vividly than any picture. (descriptions)

Her use of epithets when addressing everyone in the office became quite annoying to her coworkers. (nicknames, labels)

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