Last Updated on March 17, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 110
Epigram - a witty, ingenious, and pointed saying that is tersely expressed.
The term is from the Greek epigramma, meaning “an inscription,” and was formed by combining epi, meaning “upon,” and gramma, meaning “a writing,” or graphein, meaning “to write.”
Originally, it meant an inscription or epitaph, usually in verse, on a building, tomb, or coin. Then it came to mean a short poem ending in a witty or ingenious turn of thought.
Pope included an epigram in his “Essay on Criticism”:
Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.
lines 335 – 336
see: antithesis, aphorism, epithet, proverb
Explore all literary terms.
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.
- 30,000+ book summaries
- 20% study tools discount
- Ad-free content
- PDF downloads
- 300,000+ answers
- 5-star customer support