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illustration Epigraph



Part of speech: noun

Origin: Greek, 16th century


An inscription on a building, statue, or coin.


A short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme.

Examples of Epigraph in a sentence

"I didn’t recognize the man in the statue, but the epigraph said he was the city’s first mayor."

"The brief epigraph at the beginning of the book of poetry described the author’s love of the wilderness."

About Epigraph

“Epigraph” is based on the Greek “ἐπιγραφή” (“epigraphḗ”), meaning “inscription.”

Did you Know?

Though epigraphs were originally inscribed upon solid physical works, such as statues, buildings, and coins, the modern usage of “epigraph” mostly refers to the short quotes at the beginnings of works of writing in order to suggest the theme. Perhaps the most notable epigraph in modern literature is the quote from Gertrude Stein that precedes Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”: “You are all a lost generation.” That epigraph took on a life of its own as “the lost generation” became a common term used to describe rootless men struggling to find meaning after World War I, like those in Hemingway’s novel.

illustration Epigraph

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