Words Starting with “Epi-“

By Mark Nichol

The prefix epi, from the Greek word meaning “at,” “close to,” “on,” “in addition to,” or “on the occasion of,” is at the root of a number of diverse words that pertain in some way to something associated with something else. This post lists and briefly defines many of these terms.

epicene (“in common”): having characteristics of both sexes (or neither), effeminate

epicenter (“on center”): the point of a planet’s surface above the focus of a seismic event

epicycle (“on circle”): a small circle moving on or around another circle

epidemic (“on people”): as an adjective, affecting a large number of people; as a noun, a widespread disease, although often generally in reference to a contagious or prevalent trend

epigone (“close upon birth”): originally, a lesser descendant of distinguished forebears; later, a disciple, follower, or imitator

epigram (“written on”): a brief, clever poem or saying, originally in verse form and often satirical

epigraph (“written on”): originally, an inscription on a statue or a structure; later, a brief but substantive statement at the front of a book or head of a chapter, or a motto

epilogue (“in addition to speech”): a conclusion, originally of a play

epiphany (“show on”): a manifestation or revelation, originally of Christ

episcopal (“look over”): pertaining to a bishop

episode (“in addition to entrance”): originally, commentary between songs as part of a Greek tragedy, later an experience or incident, and ultimately also a scene or a distinctive part of a narrative

epistemology (“standing over”): the study of, or a theory of, knowledge

epistle (“send to”): a letter

epistrophe (“turning about”): repetition of a word or phrase at the end of consecutive sentences or other syntactical units, or a comparative musical repetition

epitaph (“over tomb”): an inscription on a monument or tomb

epithalamium (“into bridal chamber”): a poem or song in honor of newlyweds

epithet (“place in addition”): a descriptive name for a person, place, or thing

epitome (“cut into”): originally, an abstract; later something typical or an embodiment of an ideal

Many medical and scientific terms with the epi- prefix, including epidermis (“on skin”) and epilepsy (“seize upon”), exist. Disguised related words include epexegesis (“additional explanation”), meaning “clarification of meaning”; ephemera (“on a day”), originally meaning “lasting for a day” and now referring to something transitory; epode (“after song”), meaning “a poem with a pattern of a long lines followed by a short line”; eponym (“on a name”), meaning “one whose name is applied to a place or a thing”; epoxy (“on oxygen”), a chemical compound used as a glue; and epoch (“on hold”), originally “a point marking the beginning of an era,” now more loosely synonymous with era itself.

Epicure and its derivatives, from the proper name Epicurus, are unrelated.

Recommended for you: « »



5 Responses to “Words Starting with “Epi-“”

  • D.A.W.

    “epicure” and “epicurean” !
    As Epicurus was being given epicurean injections of epinephrine by Hippocrates, he could not help but to exclaim epithets and expletives.
    Eratosthenes then soothed him with a clever epigram.

  • D.A.W.

    I find it hard to believe that nobody mentioned these:
    Vital chemicals in the human brain: epinephrine and norepinephrine, both of which are neurotransmitters that we could not live without.
    Epinephrine is a vital chemical for all of us in other ways, including in regulating the immune response & breathing. People with severe allergies can stop breathing because of overwhelming responses to allergies, and epinephrine (taken by injection) is a lifesaving treatment. Epinephrine is a vital chemical used by anesthesiologists, too, since it is vital to keep their patients breathing!

    There is the “Epi-Pen”, and emergency treatment for giving to yourself. The Epi-pen has been controversial in the news because of both a) Reports of inept manufacturing of Epi-pens, producing faulty ones, and b) Radical and inexplicable increases in prices by the manufacture. Thus it is even more incredible that nobody mentioned epinephrine!
    D.A.W.

  • D.A.W.

    Nobody had yet mentioned an AMERICAN epic poem: “Evangeline”, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
    It is interesting that a man named “Longfellow” wrote a very long poem.

  • D.A.W.

    Note: “epithet (“place in addition”): a descriptive name for a person, place, or thing.”
    These epithets are frequently foul descriptions, which makes “epithet” a near-synonym with “expletive”, like #@?%$&!!
    I am sure that there have been some epithets said in San Clemente!

  • D.A.W.

    It is interesting that you have a word, episcopal, that means “pertaining to a bishop”. In the world of Roman Catholicism, there is San Luis Obispo, which translated into English means “St. Louis, the Bishop”.
    His name went to a Spanish mission on the central coast of California, all of which were named for saints. (E.g. Santa Ana, San Buenaventura, Santa Clara, San Diego, San Fernando, San Gabriel, San Jose, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Maria, San Pedro, San Sebastian,…)
    Thus, there is a stretch of counties along that stretch with names like Santa Barbara County, San Benito County, San Bernardino County, Santa Clara County, San Diego County, San Francisco County, San Joaquin County, San Luis Obispo County, San Matteo County, and Ventura County.
    Riverside County was named for its location along the Santa Ana River in the west, but people have pointed out that the eastern end of Riverside County is along the banks of the Colorado River.
    The Santa Ana River flows into the sea via Orange County.
    In that part of Southern California there are also the San Gabriel River, the San Gabriel Mountains, the city of San Gabriel, the San Gabriel Valley, and the San Gabriel Freeway!

Leave a comment: