Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A representative or perfect example of a class or type: "He is seen . . . as the epitome of the hawkish, right-of-center intellectual” ( Paul Kennedy).
  • n. A brief summary, as of a book or article; an abstract.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The embodiment or encapsulation of.
  • n. A representative example.
  • n. The height; the best.
  • n. A brief summary.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A work in which the contents of a former work are reduced within a smaller space by curtailment and condensation; a brief summary; an abridgement.
  • n. A compact or condensed representation of anything; something possessing conspicuously or to a high degree the qualities of a class.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An abridgment; a brief summary or abstract of a subject, or of a more extended exposition of it; a compendium containing the substance or principal matters of a book or other writing.
  • n. Hence Anything which represents another or others in a condensed or comprehensive form.
  • n. Synonyms Compendium, Compend, etc. See abridgment.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a standard or typical example
  • n. a brief abstract (as of an article or book)

Etymologies

Latin epitomē, a summary, from Greek, an abridgment, from epitemnein, to cut short : epi-, epi- + temnein, to cut.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French, from Latin epitome, epitoma, from Ancient Greek ἐπιτομή (epitomē, "an abridgment, also a surface-incision"), from ἐπιτέμνω (epitemnō, "I cut upon the surface, cut short, abridge"), from ἐπί (epi-) + τέμνω (temnō, "to cut"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • THE Bible contains the history of the human race in epitome; is the mirror in which every age and every generation may see reflected its own features and complexion.

    Moses and Joshua

  • But when preparing my Mss. for print I found the text incomplete, many of the stories being given in epitome and not a few ruthlessly mutilated with head or feet wanting.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Vocabulary What is the epitome of the word epitome?

    Answerbag: Latest Questions in Question Categories

  • Not even Loren Pierce's railing commentary on the pastor's introduction of an outlandish word like "epitome" -- clearly forbidden by the Discipline's injunction to plain language understood of the people -- availed to sap the satisfaction of the majority.

    The Damnation of Theron Ware

  • And that night and the next and the next, I wrote "Gentleman Adventurers," which the critics called the epitome of all that is balladesque.

    The Kempton-Wace Letters

  • If boutique isn't your preference, you may like the second hotel, Le Royal Monceau. 149 rooms and designed by Phillippe Stark, this hotel is what I'd call the epitome of Parisian luxury.

    Amy Chan: Top 10 Restaurants in Paris on Any Budget

  • This method is popular in diners across the nation, but the epitome is the Shake Shack with three locations in NYC and a cult following that forms long lines.

    Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn: Hamburger Heaven: A Taxonomy of the Different Species of Hamburger

  • The epitome was the Insull group, headquartered in Chicago but with tentacles extending into thirty states—an unsettling octopus of capital and influence.

    Colossus

  • Epicycles worked on paper, sort of, but they did a much better job at keeping astronomers respectable and their models intact than at describing the actual movements of heavenly bodies; they have come to be known as the epitome of bad science.

    MANUFACTURING DEPRESSION

  • For me the epitome is the Establishment's surprise at Stephen Colbert's press dinner speech, and their poo pooing critiques.

    Stark Apologizes After Censure Bid Fails

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Comments

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  • My pronunciation of this word was saved by Flava Flav, who explained :

    not rhymin'/ for the sake of riddlin' / I'm the epitome / of Public Enemy

    rhyming with 'enemy' saves me every time I go to pronounce this word.

    September 30, 2010

  • I still say it that exact same way, ep-ee-toam!

    June 27, 2008

  • Trust me, sionnach. There are other families as warped as yours. ;-)

    February 17, 2007

  • I pronounced this as three syllables, ep-ee-tome, rhyming with roam, for far longer than I care to admit. A consequence of meeting words in print long before one ever hears them in conversation. The wrong pronunciation was immediately gleefully adopted by everyone else in the family and is still the one we use when talking among ourselves. As far as I can determine, other people may not have families quite as warped as mine, but a lot of folks admit to having had some initial difficulty in pronouncing epitome.

    February 16, 2007