Definition of epigraph in English:



  • 1An inscription on a building, statue, or coin.

    • ‘The epigraph could be seen clearly on the pillars and walls.’
    engraving, wording, writing, lettering, legend, epitaph, epigraph, etching, carving
    View synonyms
  • 2A short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme.

    • ‘A secondary group of camera movement predictions that Colin makes (see the epigraph at the beginning of this section) are genre-specific and will require a different approach to evaluate.’
    • ‘To be sure, as our epigraphs suggest, this is not the first time that the issue of canonicity in the domain of law and literature has been raised.’
    • ‘The book begins with an epigraph from Edgar Allan Poe and then spins out 23 stories connected by a thin meta-narrative: novelists stranded at a writers' retreat.’
    • ‘The satirical structure and style of the novel are suggested by an epigraph from Mark Twain's travel book.’
    • ‘However, consideration of the entire passage from which the epigraph is taken suggests a subtlely different interpretation.’
    • ‘The voice in the first epigraph is that of a teacher helping a student with her English pronunciation.’
    • ‘Past horrors and present dreams (echoing the book's epigraph from Sassoon) buckle together at the moment of ‘observing.’’
    • ‘The first is to be found in the epigraph from Milton's Paradise Lost on the novel's title-page.’
    • ‘Now the general issue about whether rich countries should do this is a complex one; but the issue raised by one of the epigraphs with which the article starts is not.’
    • ‘Each of the twelve poems in the third section of the book sports an epigraph from a Emerson essay.’
    • ‘In order to write myself out of the dilemma that I state in the epigraph of the book, I turned to the generative ‘singularities,’ ‘fictions’ of other literary voices.’
    • ‘As my epigraph suggests, to be ‘strange’ is to be ‘real.’’
    • ‘The first to appear is the epigraph to the fourth chapter.’
    • ‘This conclusion together with the epigraph quoted at the beginning of this review establishes theoretical psychology as much more than a subdiscipline.’
    • ‘I have invoked Shelley as an epigraph because he identified the dangers of hubris and vanity when desire is exhausted and over-idealized.’
    • ‘Why do I feel certain the first epigraph is from the past and the second is our contemporary?’
    • ‘The epigraph, a quotation from Dante, further obscures the atmosphere.’
    • ‘Indeed, the straightforward simplicity of the first epigraph is atypical of her generally more experimental and abstract poetry.’
    • ‘(Stowe also included a fragment from it as the epigraph to Chapter 37 of Uncle Tom's Cabin).’
    quotation, stock phrase, platitude, cliché, epithet, quote, extract, excerpt, passage, allusion, phrase
    View synonyms


Late 16th century (denoting the heading of a document or letter): from Greek epigraphē, from epigraphein write on.