Tag Archives: dictionary

Dear People Who Use the Word “Epic”

Dear People Who Use the Word “Epic”,

I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Let’s review.  According to the Oxford World Dictionary, “epic” is defined as:

1 a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the past history of a nation.
[mass noun] the genre of epics:the romances display gentler emotions not found in Greek epic
a long film, book, or other work portraying heroic deeds and adventures or covering an extended period of time:a Hollywood biblical epic
informal an exceptionally long and arduous task or activity:the business of getting hospital treatment soon became an epic
1 relating to or characteristic of an epic or epics:our national epic poem Beowulf
2 heroic or grand in scale or character:his epic journey around the worlda tragedy of epic proportions

So, in order for anything to be accurately described as “epic”, it must first either possess the characteristics of the literary genre of “epic” or have some sort of large and heroic impact.  I feel that, upon realizing this, many of you will need to revise the way you use this word.

For instance: the skateboard jump that your buddy performed: not epic.  The photo of your mom’s cat staring into the toilet: not epic.  The movie The Hangover: not epic.  No matter how good of a time you and your friends have hanging out, the fact remains: not epic.

Obviously there are exceptions.  If your mom’s cat was, in fact, three years into a ten-year journey across the continental United States and was only stopping at the toilet for a refreshing drink, his plight could possibly be described as “epic” (though the photo still isn’t).  And, if you and your friends are having a good time hanging out while battling Poseidon, your time hanging out could be called “epic”.  However, The Hangover is never, ever epic.

I’m glad we had a chance to clarify things on this pressing issue.  I hope you understand the importance of the matter.

Thanks for your time.