American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A short, witty poem expressing a single thought or observation.
- n. A concise, clever, often paradoxical statement. See Synonyms at saying.
- n. Epigrammatic discourse or expression.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In Gr. lit., a poetical inscription placed upon a tomb or public monument, as upon the face of a temple or public arch. The term was afterward extended to any little piece of verse expressing with precision a delicate or ingenious thought, as the pieces in the Greek Anthology. In Roman classical poetry the term was somewhat indiscriminately used to designate a short piece in verse; but the works of Catullus, and especially the epigrams of Martial, contain a great number with the modern epigrammatic character.
- n. Hence In a restricted sense, a short poem or piece in verse, which has only one subject, and finishes by a witty or ingenious turn of thought; hence, in a general sense, an interesting thought represented happily in a few words, whether verse or prose; a pointed or antithetical saying.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A short poem treating concisely and pointedly of a single thought or event. The modern epigram is so contrived as to surprise the reader with a witticism or ingenious turn of thought, and is often satirical in character.
- n. An effusion of wit; a bright thought tersely and sharply expressed, whether in verse or prose.
- n. The style of the epigram.
- n. a witty saying
- From Latin epigramma, from Ancient Greek ἐπίγραμμα (epigramma) "inscription". (Wiktionary)
- Middle English, from Old French epigramme, from Latin epigramma, from Greek, from epigraphein, to mark the surface, inscribe : epi-, epi- + graphein, to write; see gerbh- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“To see the name of John Milton, the great religious and political polemicist, attached to such a bawdy epigram, is extremely surprising to say the least.”
“The rhetorical flourish of a Latin epigram also has served to indicate that the notion of proof is well understood, and commonly agreed.”
“With its converse insight into the modality of romantic apostasy, this volatile epigram is nothing less than the fulcrum with which we can gain sufficient purchase to negotiate the critical conversions of Coleridgean recantation, from the odes of the 1790s through the desultory journalism of the 1800s and 1810s to the "Logosophia" of 1817 and after.”
“ A slang epigram puts it better: The time, the place, and the girl.”
“Latin epigrammatist who left a large mass of work, gave a meaning to the word epigram from which it is only now beginning to recover.”
“The Latin epigram says, Mors mortis morti mortem nisi morte tu lisset, AEternae vitae janua clausa foret.”
“_ What you call epigram gives life and spirit to grave works, and seems principally wanted to relieve a long poem.”
“The epigram are a number of the sentences turned into verse.”
“The epigram was the artistic form of later antiquity which best suited the Byzantine taste for the ornamental and for intellectual ingenuity.”
“I believe it was Legrand Gunn, our only really certificated village wit, who coined the epigram: "As useless as to take a prescription to Graham's.”
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