Home Language Learning Epigram: Definition and Examples of This Literary Gadget

Epigram: Definition and Examples of This Literary Gadget

Epigram: Definition and Examples of This Literary Gadget


Sure figures in literature and historical past are recognized for his or her concise, witty phrases: Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to call a couple of. These figures can distill large concepts into tight quips, making glorious sources for materials in epigrams. An epigram is a brief saying that expresses an thought in a memorable means.

What’s an epigram?

An epigram is any brief, catchy phrase or saying. Suppose Pinterest boards and occasional mugs—these are preferrred vessels for epigrams. Epigrams might be critical, inspiring, or humorous. An important factor is that they be memorable.

Epigrams typically embrace a twist on the finish, which provides humor or irony to the assertion or turns it into satire. For instance, this quote from Albert Einstein is a widely known epigram:

“The distinction between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”

The epigram is transient, intelligent, and somewhat snarky.

Epigrams may also convey extra critical concepts. For instance, politicians typically use epigrams of their speeches to go away a long-lasting impression on their viewers. Take into account the next epigram, spoken by John F. Kennedy:

“Mankind should put an finish to struggle, or struggle will put an finish to mankind.”

The aim of this epigram is to display the seriousness of the scenario in a memorable means.

By expressing an thought in just some exceptional phrases, a author can use epigrams to catch a reader’s consideration, convey a posh thought concisely, or create a possibility for humor.

How are epigrams used?

The phrase epigram is derived from the Greek phrase epigramma, which implies “to put in writing upon” or “to inscribe.” Epigrams had been initially used as markings on monuments and gravestones. They had been pithy methods to summarize a life. Their use has expanded dramatically, and at present you’ll discover epigrams in poetry, political speech, and literature.

Early Greek poets had been prolific of their use of epigrams. A tenth-century assortment referred to as The Greek Anthology consists of greater than 1,500 epigrams on on a regular basis life and love, together with (typically satirical) lyrics about wine, girls, Christianity, and track.

Since epigrams are written to catch an viewers’s consideration, this makes them a helpful rhetorical system in speeches, particularly these the place a politician must win the respect and loyalty of an viewers shortly.

Epigrams are additionally a robust software in literature, permitting writers to convey advanced concepts and feelings in a concise means. You’ll typically encounter epigrams firstly of a ebook as an epigraph.

Epigram vs. epigraph

Epigrams and epigraphs are derived from comparable Greek phrases, and each originated as inscriptions. Due to this, they share sure traits, like being brief and summarization. Nonetheless, these two literary units differ barely.

An epigram is a brief, witty saying or poem that expresses an thought. An epigraph is a citation or excerpt that’s included firstly of a ebook. The aim of an epigram is to shortly get throughout a intelligent sentiment. The aim of an epigraph is to set the tone or theme of a piece and to supply a context for the reader. Typically epigrams make nice epigraphs!

Epigram examples

“I can resist every thing besides temptation.” —Oscar Wilde

“No one’s free till everyone’s free.” —Fanny Lou Hamer

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” —William Shakespeare

“A witty saying proves nothing.” —Voltaire

“In case you are not a delusion, whose actuality are you? In case you are not a actuality, whose delusion are you?” —Solar Ra (quoted as an epigraph in A Little Satan in America, by Hanif Abdurraqib)

“It’s love of peace that makes you a warrior.” —Louise Erdrich

“In Zen they are saying: If one thing is boring after two minutes, attempt it for 4. If nonetheless boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Ultimately one discovers that it’s not boring in any respect.” —John Cage

Epigram FAQs

What’s an epigram?

An epigram is a brief, and sometimes witty, phrase that conveys a message in a memorable means.

What’s the goal of epigrams?

Epigrams are written to create a long-lasting impression shortly. They present up typically in poetry and political speeches as a result of they distill large concepts into a couple of memorable phrases.

What’s the distinction between an epigram and an epigraph?

An epigram is a brief, intelligent phrase. An epigraph is a citation firstly of a ebook. Epigrams can be utilized as epigraphs if they’re related to the ebook’s tones or themes.