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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An inscription in stone.
  • n. A brief but witty saying.
  • n. A short, witty or pithy poem.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • 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.

from The 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.
  • 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.

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

  • n. a witty saying


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)
From Latin epigramma, from Ancient Greek ἐπίγραμμα (epigramma) "inscription". (Wiktionary)



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  • Murphy's law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong".

    October 5, 2010

  • That was my impression too.

    November 10, 2008

  • Oscar Wilde, noted witticist, I presume?

    November 10, 2008

  • "If, with the literate, I am
    Impelled to try an epigram,
    I never seek to take the credit;
    We all assume that Oscar said it."
    - Dorothy Parker.

    November 7, 2008