1. An extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero.
2. A literary or dramatic composition that resembles an extended narrative poem celebrating heroic feats.
3. A series of events considered appropriate to an epic: the epic of the Old West.
1. Of, constituting, having to do with, or suggestive of a literary epic: an epic poem.
2. Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size: "A vast musical panorama ... it requires an epic musical understanding to do it justice" (Tim Page).
3. Heroic and impressive in quality: "Here in the courtroom ... there was more of that epic atmosphere, the extra amperage of a special moment" (Scott Turow).
[From Latin epicus, from Greek epikos, from epos, word, song; see wekw- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.