Difference Between Epitaph and Epithet

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Epitaph and Epithet

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The terms "epitaph" and "epithet," when used together, can sound and even seem extremely similar. This is so because the base words and the prefixes of these terms are identical. These two terms' definitions aren't even at odds with one another because they may be used to refer to any individual.

Epitaph vs. Epithet

The primary distinction between an epitaph and an epithet is that an epitaph is often written on a gravestone, but an epithet is typically used as a nickname. On the other hand, an epithet is a byname given to a person and it may also be an aggressive, pejorative phrase. An epitaph is used to honor or address a deceased individual.

A funeral oration or a brief statement intended to honor or allude to a departed person is known as an epitaph. It is, in fact, a phrase or passage that is inscribed on a gravestone and may also be taken metaphorically. Before passing away, some people write their epitaphs for themselves.

An epithet is a phrase that dates back to Ancient Greek and describes a byname or a term that is used in addition to a name. Because these phrases are frequently used as a beloved nickname next to someone's name, some linguists have argued that they should be considered pronouns.

Difference Between Epitaph and Epithet in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Epitaph Epithet
Definition Epitaphs are verses inscribed on gravestones. Bynames are a person's epithets.
Combination Words Epitaphios are created by combining the terms epi and Paphos. Epithets are created by combining the terms epi and tithenai.
Meaning of Combination Words The funeral is connected to an epitaph. Epithets denote addition or credit.
Consist of Poems, phrases, texts, or words. Short texts.
Usage Epitaphs are used to pay tribute to the departed. Epithets are used in place of real names and are glorified names.

What is Epitaph?

The phrase "epitaph," which signifies a funeral oration in Ancient Greek, is the source of the word epitaph. A phrase or word used to refer to or honor a deceased person is called an epitaph. These terms sometimes have a metaphorical meaning and relate to writing that is inscribed on a stone or plaque. Before passing away, some people will choose their epitaph, while others will be selected by the funeral directors. These words can be written in verse or prose. Before passing away, some poets write an epitaph for themselves, and they are well-known for it.

Epitaphs are frequently referred to as a brief description of the deceased's family and career together with a well-known expression of respect and affection. Epitaphs for famous people evolved from lengthy and pretentious Latin definitions of their ancestry and occupations throughout the Renaissance to the 19th century in western culture. In the 16th century, written lines or rhymes were used in trade, and epitaphs were more frequently related to nature. Comedic epitaphs were often found in brief lyric compositions, puzzles, puns, and palindromes on identities and occupations in the states of America and Britain.

An epitaph is a verse, poetry, or other written work that is engraved or inscribed on a headstone, tombstone, monument, or memorial. Epitaphs are used to commemorate the departed or to convey a tale about them.

Although they may also be seen on other materials, they are often etched into stone or marble. Epitaphs can be as short as a few words or as long as a few paragraphs or stanzas. They may contain general or specific information on a person's life and demise, as well as quotes from the departed.

How to Write an Epitaph

Do you question your abilities to genuinely eulogize someone? Although epitaphs are a highly specialized type of writing, the method of producing one is the same for almost all other types of writing. And as you'll see below, epitaphs may have a range of tones and durations while still having an impact.

Do Some Research

Do some independent study even though we present some samples of well-known epitaphs for a range of situations and emotions.

What kinds of religious or cultural topics are important to you? To the departed individual? Did he or she have any personal guiding principles or role models? You might not have to confine your searches to Google. Seek advice from the dead person's other close friends and relatives. View a collection of epitaph quotes and sayings on Cake.


It's time to compose a few draughts now that you have all of those glistening examples in your head. You could get it perfect the first time, or you might need to try several times.

Whether you decide to write it on a laptop or with a pen and paper, make sure you have everything you need for a productive writing session. You could think about composing a poem, perhaps a "gone too soon" poem, or you might decide to write something else entirely.


Once you've written a draught or a few drafts, take a break. Allow yourself some time to concentrate on other things so that you may return with a new perspective. You can even put off writing for a few days so you can decide if the epitaph will withstand the test of time.

Does it still reflect the respect you desire to have for your loved one? Is it cutoff time? Long enough? Would a total stranger understand it? Do you prefer it to be less clear-cut? It can be a good idea at this point to solicit comments from others by sharing your draught of an epitaph with them.

Write your Final Draft

You're prepared to compose your final draft after giving it some thought and perhaps doing some editing. You should consider the feedback you've gotten from friends and relatives carefully.

While some things are not permanent, epitaphs are. You can request a revision, but you might not want to pay the fee.

Decide on the Headstone, Gravestone, etc.

The last stage in composing an epitaph is picking the surface it will be printed on after finishing your final copy. What kind of funeral service will be held for the deceased? Depending on this, you'll either examine a monument, a memorial, a headstone, or a tombstone. If your loved one is not being buried conventionally or organically but you still want to be able to visit a tangible marker, monuments and memorials are a viable option.

You might also think about the kind of material you want to work with at this time. You might go for marble or a more ornate type of stone that is more conventional.

Famous Epitaph Examples

Since epitaphs have such a lengthy, illustrious history, there are several well-known examples with a wide range of tones. Others are short, some are lengthy, some are joyful, and some are depressing. Both the person being recognized and the authors of the tribute will have an impact. If you decide to create an epitaph, use the following as your guide.

You'll observe that they have a wonderfully diverse range of shapes. If it doesn't feel natural, don't restrict yourself to using flowery terminology. If the departed had a humorous or intriguing perspective on death, you might simply make it the epitaph for him or her.

What is Epithet?

An epithet is a popularly used nickname or a pejorative term or phrase that is used in place of a person's real name. When used about allegedly real or fictitious individuals, deities, objects, or binomial nomenclature, an epithet can have a wide variety of meanings and synonyms. You may also use an epithet as a descriptive title, such as Suleiman the Magnificent or Alfred the Great. A term that is insulting, derogatory, or scornful is referred to as an epithet. Martin Manser and other supporters of linguistics decry the use of an epithet as a euphemism. Sometimes an epithet is added to the person's given name, and other times it is used in place of the name itself.

Some linguists have suggested that epithets should be treated as pronouns since they are often a beloved nickname or appellation given to a person by their family or friends. Epithets are also asserted to be a phenomenon with a syntax-semantics interface since they include elements from both the pragmatic and syntax-semantics spheres. Due to its widespread use, an epithet is frequently connected to its noun. Adjectives in general are not regarded as epithets. When an epithet is used primarily for ornamentation, it is an epithet. The epithets are more ornamental than they are relevant to the prompt context or specifically created for it.

Once an epithet has been introduced, it is frequently used again throughout a piece of writing to give the reader a sense of familiarity. Epithets, like nicknames like Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Alexander the Great, and Richard the Lionheart, frequently occur next to or in place of a person's name.

These epithets, often referred to as epithets on necessarium in Latin, identify the subject of the discussion. Both Greek and Roman gods and goddesses as well as European royalty frequently use them. King Charles the Bald of France and King Philip the Pious of Spain are two such instances of epithets applied to rulers.

In terms of literature, Homer's style is characterized by epithets. Around the seventh century BC, he created epic poems like The Odyssey with the idea that they should be heard rather than read. In this way, epithets serve as both literary and aural techniques. The numerous components of the plot were made simpler to understand by naming characters, locations, and objects with epithets and repeating those names.

Why Do Writers Use Epithets?

Epithets enhance the significance of a passage. With only a few words, they may help authors create more evocative, metaphorical descriptions of characters and environments, which helps readers get a clearer image. Especially in poetry, epithets strengthen and enliven phrases.

3 Types of Epithets With Examples of Each

Learn about the many epithet kinds and epithet instances so you can employ them—or, in certain situations, avoid employing them—more effectively:

Fixed Epithet

Repeated use of a term or phrase to refer to the same subject, setting, or object. In epic poetry, fixed epithets, also known as the Homeric epithet, are frequently employed. Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus are frequently described in Homer's Odyssey as "many-minded," "prudent," and "sound-minded," respectively.

Argumentative Epithet

Epithets with a foreboding undertone. Orators frequently employ argumentative epithets to imply a potential result. A politician may refer to the unfavorable results of a previous conflict or skirmish during a speech, strongly suggesting that something as awful may occur if circumstances remain the same.


A particular epithet, which is a two-word phrase used to symbolically characterize something. Poetry in Old English and Old Norse frequently uses kennings. "Bookworm" is a more recent English kenning for a voracious reader, whereas "sky-candle" is a kenning for the sun.

Main Differences Between Epitaph and Epithet in Points

  • An epithet is a nickname or a glorified name given to a person, whereas an epitaph is a statement or inscription placed on a stone or plaque of a deceased person.
  • The words "epitaph" and "taphos" are combined to form the term, which means "upon the tomb," whereas "epithet" is made up of the words "epi" and "tithenai," which means "to put on."
  • Epithets are added after or in place of a person's name in an epitaph, which is intended to remember or commemorate the departed.
  • While epithets are brief inscriptions, epitaphs typically take the shape of phrases or compositions.
  • While epithets are sometimes employed as a descriptive title for a person, epitaphs also serve as a record of a person's family history and occupation.


In conclusion, the Greek word "epi," which means "upon," is used in both the terms "epitaph" and "epithets." An epithet is referred to as an alternative term for a person or an item god, whereas an epitaph is a short sentence that is meant to honor and remember a departed person and is inscribed on their gravestone.

The adjectives that are intended to suggest a whole category, such as racist or sexist, are nonetheless most frequently employed nowadays with the intent to degrade or offend. However, not all epithets are used in a derogatory manner. Some epithets are used as a fancy nickname that is added to a person's name as an adjective, but not all epithets are.



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"Difference Between Epitaph and Epithet." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 30 May. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-epitaph-and-epithet-827>.

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