Wondering about the meaning of epic? Read on as we explore the term epic to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, and more.
You’ve likely described something as epic before, but do you actually know what the term epic means? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’re exploring the word epic to discover its definition, origin, synonyms, and antonyms. We’ll also go over a few usage examples to help you feel comfortable using the term in a sentence.
Let’s get started!
What Is the Definition of Epic?
If you know epic as a slang word used to describe something that’s unbelievably awesome, you may be surprised to learn that the primary meaning of the term actually pertains to a long poetic composition.
Don’t believe us? Check out these definitions provided by a few trusted dictionaries listed below:
- According to the Cambridge Dictionary, an epic is a movie, book, or poem that is quite lengthy and contains a lot of action, usually dealing with a historical subject.
- Lexico Dictionary defines an epic as a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the adventures and deeds of heroic or legendary figures.
- The Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries says epic is a long poem about the actions of great men and women or about a nation’s history.
After reviewing the listed definitions, we can conclude that when used as a noun, the term epic refers to a long narrative poem in an elevated style that recounts the deeds of a legendary or historical hero.
Despite originally earning its place in the English language as a noun, epic is commonly used today as an adjective to describe something that’s historically important, complex, or very impressive.
What Is the Origin of Epic?
Pertaining to or constituting a long heroic poem, “epic” derived from Middle French épique or directly from Latin epicus, from Ancient Greek epikos (ἐπικός), from ἔπος (épos, meaning word or story).
As mentioned, the term was originally used to describe long stories that featured tales of gods, monsters, philosophical elements, and historical events.
It’s not quite clear when epic began to appear in the English language to describe something that wasn’t a story or poem, but its use has been documented for hundreds of years.
Today, the term epic is frequently used in a highly colloquial fashion, in a manner that is largely synonymous with fabulous, impressive, or outstanding.
Antonyms and Synonyms of Epic
To strengthen your understanding of the word epic, it can be helpful to learn its synonyms and antonyms.
Simply put, a synonym is a word that means exactly or nearly the same as another word, whereas antonyms are words with opposite meanings.
Synonyms of epic include:
- Long poem
Antonyms of epic include:
- Short story
Examples of Epic in a Sentence
Now that you understand what epic means, let’s review a few example sentences:
I wrote an epic poem last year that was anything but ordinary.
If you ask me, two great epics in English are Paradise Lost and Beowulf.
If you’re looking for something to read, the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid are some great epics from world literature.
Gaining muscle last year was such an epic struggle.
I am currently writing an epic that celebrates the feats of a deity and a demigod.
What started off as an epic voyage ended in an unfortunate tragedy.
My sister’s after-prom party was epic.
Bob said Homer’s Iliad is an epic poem that I need to read as soon as possible.
Did you know that epic is a genre of narrative?
Last week’s episode had an epic battle with a superhero — it was EPIC!
If you want to celebrate heroic feats and achievements, consider writing an epic.
Besides my epic fail at completing my homework tonight, it was an extremely relaxing evening.
Despite their epic failures, many undeserving CEOs are paid salaries and bonuses in the millions.
The old lady sitting up front let out an epic burp.
When she starts reciting epic poetry in French, it’s rather overwhelming.
So, what does epic mean, you ask?
Derived from the Greek word epikos which means “a word, song, or speech,” epic refers to a long narrative that is elevated and dignified in theme, tone, and style.
As a literary term, an epic celebrates heroic deeds and historically important events, usually focusing on the adventures of a hero who is often superhuman (like a superhere) or divine (like a deity).
There are many wonderful epics, but the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid are arguably the most well-known in western world literature.
In addition to its use as a noun, the term epic can also be used as an adjective to describe something that’s unbelievably awesome. For example, when describing your fun-filled summer vacation from last year, you might say it was… epic.
To discover more interesting words, check out our website where you’ll also find helpful grammar tools, useful tips and more!