Guide to Literary Terms Epithet

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Epithet - an adjective which expresses a quality or attribute considered characteristic of a person or thing. It is also an appellation or descriptive term which is common in historical titles such as “Catherine the Great.”

The term is taken from the Greek epitheton, meaning “attributed” or “added,” and was formed by combining epi, meaning “on,” and tithenai, meaning “to place.”

Homer used many epithets, among them:

“rosy-fingered dawn”
“swift-footed Achilles”
“all-seeing Jove.”

Explore all literary terms.