Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of epigram?

The definition of epigram is a concise and witty statement or poem in which a single subject is addressed, often ending with an unexpected twist.

Epigram

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An epigram is a concise and witty statement or poem in which a single subject is addressed, often ending with an unexpected twist. 

Epigram originates from the Greek word epigramma, from epigraphein, meaning “to inscribe,” composed of epi (“upon”) and graphein (“to write”).

Consider Sir Henry Wotton’s (1568–1639) epigrammatic couplet “Upon the death of Sir Albert Morton’s Wife”:

He first deceas’d: She for a little tri’d

To live without Him: lik’d it not, and di’d.

see: antithesis, aphorism, epithet, proverb

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