This week we'll explore words using the Greek prefix epi-.
epigone – a second-rate imitator or follower (especially of a writer, artist or musician)
Pronounced with three syllables; the 'e' at the end is silent.
The Epigonoi were the sons of the Seven against Thebes, who imitated their fathers by attacking Thebes. Greek gonos 'child'
quote:A better reference would be to the Greek epígonos '(one) born afterwards'.
epicenter - the focal point, especially of a crisis (originally, the point of the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake)
AHD's usage experts strongly approve the figurative use as focal point, in dangerous, destructive, or negative contexts. Approval is lower when the context is neutral or positive. Compare these two illustrative quotes:
quote:The term is also used specifically as the focal point from which a disease spreads: "According to the patients they all ate in the restaurant, which has been pinpointed as the epicenter for the disease." People's Daily Online (China), September 6, 2001
Time has been kind to today's word.
The greek philosopher Epicurus taught that pleasure is the highest good, to which life should be devoted, and that virtue is the greatest pleasure. Subsequent generations adopted the first precept and forgot the second, so that 'epicure' became a pejorative word meaning for 'one who gives himself up to sensual pleasure', especially the pleasures of food and sex.
But in our time the word, cleaned up, applies to fine dining. The earlier pejorative meaning still is valid, but is secondary.
epicure - one with refined taste, especially in food and wine. (With a sense of "over-refined'; contrast 'gourmet')
That epicure dining at Crewe
was drinking his mouse-soup in lieu
of the meal in his own suite
at Birmingham New Street -
Mr Porter, Oh what shall I do?*
* For further information go to http://www.amaranthdesign.ca/musichall/songs/porter.htm
epicene – having characteristics of both the male and the female, as an epicene angel
Also, in linguistics, a word having the same form for both male and female. AHD discusses the effort to create epicene pronouns, such as s/he and hisser.
This word, like 'epicure', has been cleaned up over time. The sources say it stems from Greek epikoinos 'common to many; promiscuous'. Considering the current definition, my guess is that this is another of the many cases where lexicographers are coy about sexual matters, and that 'promiscuous' is their euphemism for 'bisexual'.
epiphany - a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
Originally (as I understand it), an appearance or manifestation, especially of a divine being. The Christian Church used the term as referance to the advent of Christ.
from Greek for "manifest, conspicuous," which comes for from epi- = on, to + phainein = to show
Epicrisis is one of those unusual words which has two different pronunciations, with two different meanings.
epic´risis - a detailed critical study or evaluation (some sources add 'of a literary work')
(accent on second syllable)
ep´icri´sis - medical: a secondary crisis; one following the primary of a disease
(accent on first syllable; secondary accent on the penultimate [= next to last])
A word with interesting variations The sources give three related meanings, which I list from narrowest to broadest. I'd think the first sense is the generally understood one, and that the last, broadest sense is completely obscure -- but I should admit that the sources neither confirm nor reject that thought.
epithet – a smear-name:
--- "He used the epithet 'communist' for everyone who disagreed with him."
--- "There is no place for racial epithets in a police officer's vocabulary."
AHD notes: "Strictly speaking, an epithet need not be derogatory, but the term is commonly used as a simple synonym for term of abuse or slur.” Which leads us to the more general meaning;
epithet (more generally) – a characterzing adjective or substitute-name, positive or negative:
--- Catherine the Great (adjective); The Great Emancipator for Abraham Lincoln.
Basically, a name "added on". We see this in the etymology: from Greek epithetos "attributed, added," from epi- "in addition" + tithenai "to put."
epithet (most generally but, I'd say, quite rare) – an adjective naming some particularly appropriate quality: a just man; a verdant lawn.
epithet (most generally but, I'd say, quite rare) â€“ an adjective naming some
particularly appropriate quality: a just man; a verdant lawn.
Or, in the case of the story of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, a just and verdant man.