Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An inscription, as on a statue or building.
  • noun A motto or quotation, as at the beginning of a literary composition, setting forth a theme.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To inscribe an epigraph on.
  • noun An inscription cut or impressed on stone, metal, or other permanent material, as distinguished from a writing in manuscript, etc.; specifically, in archaeology, a terse inscription on a building, tomb, monument, or statue, denoting its use or appropriation, and sometimes incorporated in its scheme of ornamentation.
  • noun A superscription or title at the beginning of a book, a treatise, or a part of a book.
  • noun In lit., a citation from some author, or a sentence framed for the purpose, placed at the commencement of a work or of one of its separate divisions; a motto.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Any inscription set upon a building; especially, one which has to do with the building itself, its founding or dedication.
  • noun (Literature) A citation from some author, or a sentence framed for the purpose, placed at the beginning of a work or of its separate divisions; a motto.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun an inscription, especially one on a building etc
  • noun a literary quotation placed at the beginning of a book etc
  • noun mathematics (of a function) the set of all points lying on or above its graph

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

  • noun a quotation at the beginning of some piece of writing
  • noun an engraved inscription

Etymologies

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

[Greek epigraphē, from epigraphein, to write on; see epigram.]

Examples

  • The epigraph is by Javier Marías, who could probably discuss this subject much better, since I consider this a difficult question.

    A Conversation with Rabih Alameddine, author of The Hakawati

  • My epigraph is similarly striking: When language fails us, when we fail each other there is no exorcism.

    Archive 2007-01-01

  • I did check, wondering if it should be an "e" as in "epigraph". posted by Hal Duncan | 2: 46 PM

    Archive 2006-03-01

  • I did check, wondering if it should be an "e" as in "epigraph". posted by Hal Duncan | 2: 46 PM

    Losts in Translation

  • Note 65: The epigraph is from a local song, "A Woman's Tongue Will Never Take a Rest," collected in Cape Broyle in 1968.

    Gutenber-e Help Page

  • The other epigraph is from a handbook of speech which points out that in a heightened state of emotion people speak at a rate of a hundred and sixty words a minute.

    Faraway Voices

  • The other epigraph is from a handbook of speech which points out that in a heightened state of emotion people speak at a rate of a hundred and sixty words a minute.

    Faraway Voices

  • The other epigraph is from a handbook of speech which points out that in a heightened state of emotion people speak at a rate of a hundred and sixty words a minute.

    Faraway Voices

  • The novel’s epigraph is taken from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, in which a naïve young woman, caught up in fantasies from the Gothic fiction she loves to read, imagines that her host in an English country house is a villain.

    Atonement by Ian McEwan: Questions

  • Textually, the poem carries an epigraph from the seventeenth-century

    A Tour of the Sceptic

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