Definition of epoch in English:



  • 1A particular period of time in history or a person's life:

    ‘the Victorian epoch’
    • ‘His early woodcuts, moreover, influenced a generation and evoke an epoch.’
    • ‘Chekhov's life straddled two epochs of Russian history.’
    • ‘Here the Qur'an refers to the creation of the heavens and the earth in six long periods or epochs, which the scientists have no objection to.’
    • ‘The architecture and layout of Cairo reflect the various epochs of its history.’
    • ‘In his lecture ‘Spirit of the Age’ he divided history into three epochs.’
    • ‘There is a parallel here with previous epochs in human history, notably the invention of the printing press and the birth of the Renaissance.’
    • ‘The painting illustrates an epoch in Goan cultural history.’
    • ‘Similarly, Marx contends that without content, logic can tell us nothing about specific problem domains or specific historical epochs.’
    • ‘Procedures in other parts of the world and in other epochs were similar in principle although different in detail and in the degree of elaboration which was thought necessary or found feasible.’
    • ‘In these plans, Condorcet divided the historical record into nine epochs spanning the progress of the human mind from the dawn of civilization to his own time.’
    • ‘British chronology is reckoned in royal reigns; epochs of history are named after kings and queens: the Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian ages.’
    • ‘Independent investigations undertaken in this sphere would undoubtedly shed new light or at least throw more light on isolated historical events and entire epochs.’
    • ‘This book seeks to highlight the glory of certain epochs of our ancient history.’
    • ‘The University of Bristol's MA in Medieval and Early modern History is new to the department and re-examines the traditional rigid periodisation of the two epochs.’
    • ‘Throughout time, major wars have defined historical epochs and charted the rise and decline of great powers.’
    • ‘She traces its itinerary from the colonial epoch to the 19th century, the period in which the suburban house comes to represent an alternative to the cities for the well-to-do classes in search of privacy.’
    • ‘At century's end, historian Frederick Jackson Turner saw the closing of the frontier as the end of an epoch in American history.’
    • ‘She explains that in earlier historical epochs people had little appreciation and time for it.’
    • ‘In the epoch of globalisation it is impossible to defend social and democratic rights within a national framework.’
    era, age, period, time, aeon, span
    stage, point in history
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    1. 1.1 The beginning of a period in the history of someone or something:
      ‘these events marked an epoch in their history’
      • ‘Mrs Raistrick said the ceremony ‘marked an epoch in the educational history of Upper Wharfedale and, we hope, begins a new era of development and progress in education.’’
      • ‘This is the beginning of a new epoch, the beginning of a new great democracy.’
      • ‘Mankind had entered the epoch of the social revolution.’
      • ‘When the forms of production come into conflict with existing social relations, a revolutionary epoch arises.’
      • ‘We can even speak of the beginning of a new epoch.’
      • ‘With that a new epoch in the history of imperialism was introduced.’
      era, age, period, time, aeon, span
      stage, point in history
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    2. 1.2Geology A division of time that is a subdivision of a period and is itself subdivided into ages, corresponding to a series in chronostratigraphy:
      ‘the Pliocene epoch’
      • ‘The culmination of the cooling trend was the Pleistocene epoch, or Great Ice Age, of the last 1.8 million years.’
      • ‘About halfway through the Pliocene epoch several important tectonic events occurred.’
      • ‘Gold deposition was the most productive during the course of the Hercynian and Kimmerian metallogenic epochs and the Mezo-Cenozoic activation stage.’
      • ‘The Pleistocene epoch occurred between about 1.8 million and 10,500 years ago.’
      • ‘The long Eocene epoch witnessed only four independent first appearances of gastropods with a labral tooth.’
      era, age, period, time, aeon, span
      stage, point in history
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Astronomy An arbitrarily fixed date relative to which planetary or stellar measurements are expressed.
      • ‘In particular, Steidel is known for the development of a technique that effectively locates early galaxies at prescribed cosmic epochs, allowing for the study of large samples of galaxies in the early universe.’
      • ‘Then for each of the simulated epochs, a median of measurements taken at this epoch was computed.’
      • ‘As a result, the constellations at these two different epochs can simulate the GPS and Galileo constellations at a single epoch.’
      • ‘One of these galaxy clusters is the most distant proto-cluster ever found and the other is the most massive known galaxy cluster for its epoch.’
      • ‘The Perfect Cosmological Principle claimed that the Universe was not only similar from place to place but also from time to time: no astronomical observations could absolutely characterize the cosmic epoch at which we live.’


Early 17th century (in the Latin form epocha; originally in the general sense of a date from which succeeding years are numbered): from modern Latin epocha, from Greek epokhē stoppage, fixed point of time, from epekhein stop, take up a position, from epi upon, near to + ekhein stay, be in a certain state.