An epithet (from Greek: ἐπίθετον epitheton, neuter of ἐπίθετος epithetos, "attributed, added") is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high.
In contemporary use, epithet often refers to an abusive, defamatory, or derogatory phrase, such as a racial or animal epithet. This use as a euphemism is criticized by Martin Manser and other proponents of linguistic prescription.
Epithets are sometimes attached to a person's name or appear in place of his or her name, as what might be described as a glorified nickname or sobriquet. An epithet is linked to its noun by long-established usage. Not every adjective is an epithet. An epithet is especially recognizable when its function is largely decorative, such as if "cloud-gathering Zeus" is employed other than in reference to conjuring up a storm. "The epithets are decorative insofar as they are neither essential to the immediate context nor modeled especially for it. Among other things, they are extremely helpful to fill out a half-verse", Walter Burkert has noted.
Some epithets are known by the Latin term epitheton necessarium because they are required to distinguish the bearers, e.g. as an alternative to numbers after a prince's name—such as Richard the Lionheart (Richard I of England), or Charles the Fat alongside Charles the Bald. The same epithet can be used repeatedly joined to different names, e.g. Alexander the Great as well as Constantine the Great.
Other epithets can easily be omitted without serious risk of confusion, and are therefore known (again in Latin) as epitheton ornans. Thus the classical Roman author Virgil systematically called his main hero pius Aeneas, the epithet being pius, which means religiously observant, humble and wholesome, as well as calling the armsbearer of Aeneas fidus Achates, the epithet being fidus, which means faithful or loyal.
Epithets are characteristic of the style of ancient epic poetry, notably in that of Homer or the northern European sagas (see above, as well as Epithets in Homer). When James Joyce uses the phrase "the snot-green sea" he is playing on Homer's familiar epithet "the wine-dark sea". The phrase "Discreet Telemachus" is also considered an epithet.
The Greek term antonomasia, in rhetoric, means substituting any epithet or phrase for a proper name, as Pelides, signifying the "son of Peleus", to identify Achilles. An opposite substitution of a proper name for some generic term is also sometimes called antonomasia, as a Cicero for an orator. The use of a father's name or ancestor's name, such as "Pelides" in the case of Achilles, or "Saturnia" in the case of the goddess Juno in Vergil's Aeneid, is specifically called a patronymic device and is in its own class of epithet.
Epithets were in layman's terms glorified nicknames that could be used to represent one's style, artistic nature, or even geographical reference. They originated to simply serve the purpose of dealing with names that were hard to pronounce or just unpleasant. It from there went to something that could be very significant assigned by elders or counterparts to represent one's position in the community or it could be a representation of whomever one wanted to be or thought he was. The elegance of this movement was used throughout history and even modern day with many examples ranging from "Aphrodite the Heavenly & Zeus the Protector of Guests" all the way to "Johnny Football & King James".
American comic books tend to give epithets to superheroes, such as The Phantom being "The Ghost Who Walks", Superman called "The Man of Steel", and "The Dynamic Duo" Batman and Robin, who are individually known as "The Dark Knight" and "The Boy Wonder".
Additionally, epíteto, the Spanish version of epithet, is commonly used throughout poems in Castilian literature.
In many polytheistic religions, such as those of ancient Greece and Rome, a deity's epithets generally reflected a particular aspect of that god's essence and role, for which his influence may be obtained for a specific occasion: Apollo Musagetes is "Apollo, [as] leader of the Muses" and therefore patron of the arts and sciences while Phoibos Apollo is the same deity, but as shining sun-god. "Athena protects the city as polias, oversees handicrafts as ergane, joins battle as promachos and grants victory as nike."
Alternatively the epithet may identify a particular and localized aspect of the god, such as a reference to the mythological place of birth or numinous presence at a specific sanctuary: sacrifice might be offered on one and the same occasion to Pythian Apollo (Apollo Pythios) and Delphic Apollo (Apollo Delphinios). A localizing epithet refers simply to a particular center of veneration and the cultic tradition there, as the god manifested at a particular festival, for example: Zeus Olympios, Zeus as present at Olympia, or Apollo Karneios, Apollo at the Spartan Carneian festival.
Often the epithet is the result of fusion of the Olympian divinity with an older one: Poseidon Erechtheus, Artemis Orthia, reflect intercultural equations of a divinity with an older one, that is generally considered its pendant; thus most Roman gods and goddesses, especially the Twelve Olympians, had traditional counterparts in Greek, Etruscan, and most other Mediterranean pantheons, such as Jupiter as head of the Olympian Gods with Zeus, but in specific cults there may be a different equation, based on one specific aspect of the divinity. Thus the Greek word Trismegistos: "thrice grand" was first used as a Greek name for the Egyptian god of science and invention, Thoth, and later as an epitheton for the Greek Hermes and, finally, the fully equated Roman Mercurius Mercury (both were messenger of the gods). Among the Greeks, T. H. Price notes the nurturing power of Kourotrophos might be invoked in sacrifices and recorded in inscription, without specifically identifying Hera or Demeter.
Some epithets were applied to several deities of a same pantheon rather accidentally if they had a common characteristic, or deliberately, emphasizing their blood- or other ties; thus in pagan Rome, several divinities gods, and heroes were given the epitheton Comes as companion of another (usually major) divinity. An epithet can even be meant for collective use, e.g. in Latin pilleati 'the felt hat-wearers' for the brothers Castor and Pollux. Some epithets resist explanation.
Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Christians of other churches practice the use of epithets in the veneration of Jesus (e.g., "Christ"; "Prince of Peace"; "The Good Shepherd"), of Mary, Mother of Jesus (e.g. "Mother of God"; "Panagia"), and of the saints (e.g. "Pope Saint John Paul the Great, Saint Theophan the Recluse"). "Our Lady of Lourdes" is essentially periphrasis, except where some aspect of the Virgin is invoked.
An epithet is an adjective or adjectival phrase that characterizes a place, a thing, or a person that helps make the characteristics of this thing more prominent. These descriptive phrases can be used in a positive or negative way that benefits the orator. "It will generally happen, that the Epithets employed by a skillful orator, will be found to be, in fact, so many abridged arguments, the force of which is sufficiently conveyed by a mere hint; e.g. if any one says, 'We ought to take warning from the bloody revolution of France,' the Epithet suggests one of the reasons for our being warned; and that, not less clearly, and more forcibly, than if the argument had been stated at length." With persuasion being a key component of rhetoric, it is rational to use epithets. The use of persuasive wording gives leverage to one's arguments. Knowledge along with descriptive words or phrases can be a powerful tool. This is supported in Bryan Short's article when he states, "The New Rhetoric derives its empiricist flavor from a pervasive respect for clarity and directness of language." Rhetors use epithets to direct their audience to see their point of view, using verbal forms of imagery as a persuasive tactic.
Orators have a variety of epithets that they can employ that have different meanings. The most common are fixed epithets and transferred epithets. A fixed epithet is the repetitive use of the same word or phrase for the same person or object. A transferred epithet qualifies a noun other than the person or thing it is describing. This is also known as a hypallage. This can often involves shifting a modifier from the animate to the inanimate; for example, "cheerful money"and "suicidal sky".
Orators take special care when using epithets as to not use them as smear words. Orators could be accused of racial or abusive epithets if used incorrectly. American journalist William Safire discussed the use of the word in a 2008 column in The New York Times: "'I am working on a piece about nationalism with a focus on epithet as a smear word,' writes David Binder, my longtime Times colleague, 'which was still a synonym for 'delineation' or 'characterization' in my big 1942 Webster's but now seems to be almost exclusively a synonym for 'derogation' or 'smear word.' ... In the past century, [epithet] blossomed as 'a word of abuse,' today gleefully seized upon to describe political smears."
In historical, journalistic, and other writings, epithets often carry a political message. These differ from official titles as they express no legal status; however, they may confer prestige, especially if bestowed by an authority or legislature, and may be used for propaganda purposes. Examples of such epithets are the various traditions of victory titles awarded to generals and rulers or to entire military units, such as the adjective 'Fidelis' ('loyal') bestowed on various Roman legions.
An animal epithet is a name used to label a person or group, by association with some perceived quality of an animal. Epithets may be formulated as similes, explicitly comparing people with the named animal, or as metaphors, directly naming people as animals. Animal epithets may be pejorative, readily giving offence, and they are sometimes used in political campaigns. One English epithet, lamb, is always used positively.
Animal similes and metaphors have been used since classical times, for example by Homer and Virgil, to heighten effects in literature, and to sum up complex concepts concisely.
Surnames that name animals are found in different countries. They may be metonymic, naming a person's profession, generally in the Middle Ages; toponymic, naming the place where a person lived; or nicknames, comparing the person favourably or otherwise with the named animal.Anti-authoritarianism
Anti-authoritarianism is opposition to authoritarianism, which is defined as "a form of social organisation characterised by submission to authority", "favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom" and to authoritarian government. Anti-authoritarians usually believe in full equality before the law and strong civil liberties. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with anarchism, an ideology which entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including the state system.Binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature ("two-term naming system"), also called binominal nomenclature ("two-name naming system") or binary nomenclature, is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages. Such a name is called a binomial name (which may be shortened to just "binomial"), a binomen, binominal name or a scientific name; more informally it is also called a Latin name. The first part of the name – the generic name – identifies the genus to which the species belongs, while the second part – the specific name or specific epithet – identifies the species within the genus. For example, humans belong to the genus Homo and within this genus to the species Homo sapiens. Tyrannosaurus rex is probably the most widely known binomial. The formal introduction of this system of naming species is credited to Carl Linnaeus, effectively beginning with his work Species Plantarum in 1753. But Gaspard Bauhin, in as early as 1623, had introduced in his book Pinax theatri botanici (English, Illustrated exposition of plants) many names of genera that were later adopted by Linnaeus.The application of binomial nomenclature is now governed by various internationally agreed codes of rules, of which the two most important are the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) for animals and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICNafp). Although the general principles underlying binomial nomenclature are common to these two codes, there are some differences, both in the terminology they use and in their precise rules.
In modern usage, the first letter of the first part of the name, the genus, is always capitalized in writing, while that of the second part is not, even when derived from a proper noun such as the name of a person or place. Similarly, both parts are italicized when a binomial name occurs in normal text (or underlined in handwriting). Thus the binomial name of the annual phlox (named after botanist Thomas Drummond) is now written as Phlox drummondii.
In scientific works, the authority for a binomial name is usually given, at least when it is first mentioned, and the date of publication may be specified.
"Patella vulgata Linnaeus, 1758". The name "Linnaeus" tells the reader who it was that first published a description and name for this species of limpet; 1758 is the date of the publication in which the original description can be found (in this case the 10th edition of the book Systema Naturae).
"Passer domesticus (Linnaeus, 1758)". The original name given by Linnaeus was Fringilla domestica; the parentheses indicate that the species is now considered to belong in a different genus. The ICZN does not require that the name of the person who changed the genus be given, nor the date on which the change was made, although nomenclatorial catalogs usually include such information.
"Amaranthus retroflexus L." – "L." is the standard abbreviation used in botany for "Linnaeus".
"Hyacinthoides italica (L.) Rothm. – Linnaeus first named this bluebell species Scilla italica; Rothmaler transferred it to the genus Hyacinthoides; the ICNafp does not require that the dates of either publication be specified.Botanical name
A botanical name is a formal scientific name conforming to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) and, if it concerns a plant cultigen, the additional cultivar or Group epithets must conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). The code of nomenclature covers "all organisms traditionally treated as algae, fungi, or plants, whether fossil or non-fossil, including blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), chytrids, oomycetes, slime moulds and photosynthetic protists with their taxonomically related non-photosynthetic groups (but excluding Microsporidia)."The purpose of a formal name is to have a single name that is accepted and used worldwide for a particular plant or plant group. For example, the botanical name Bellis perennis denotes a plant species which is native to most of the countries of Europe and the Middle East, where it has accumulated various names in many languages. Later, the plant was introduced worldwide, bringing it into contact with more languages. English names for this plant species include: daisy, English daisy, and lawn daisy. The cultivar Bellis perennis 'Aucubifolia' is a golden-variegated horticultural selection of this species.Cracker (term)
Cracker, sometimes white cracker or cracka, is a colloquial term for white people, used especially for poor rural whites in the Southern United States. It is also at times used indiscriminately and pejoratively against any person of white background. However, it is sometimes used in a neutral or positive context or self-descriptively with pride in reference to a native of Florida or Georgia (see Florida cracker and Georgia cracker).Cultivar
The term cultivar most commonly refers to an assemblage of plants selected for desirable characters that are maintained during propagation. More generally, cultivar refers to the most basic classification category of cultivated plants in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). Most cultivars arose in cultivation, but a few are special selections from the wild.
Popular ornamental garden plants like roses, camellias, daffodils, rhododendrons, and azaleas are cultivars produced by careful breeding and selection for floral colour and form. Similarly, the world's agricultural food crops are almost exclusively cultivars that have been selected for characters such as improved yield, flavour, and resistance to disease, and very few wild plants are now used as food sources. Trees used in forestry are also special selections grown for their enhanced quality and yield of timber.
Cultivars form a major part of Liberty Hyde Bailey's broader group, the cultigen, which is defined as a plant whose origin or selection is primarily due to intentional human activity. A cultivar is not the same as a botanical variety, which is a taxonomic rank below subspecies, and there are differences in the rules for creating and using the names of botanical varieties and cultivars. In recent times, the naming of cultivars has been complicated by the use of statutory patents for plants and recognition of plant breeders' rights.The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV – French: Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales) offers legal protection of plant cultivars to persons or organisations that introduce new cultivars to commerce. UPOV requires that a cultivar be "distinct, uniform", and "stable". To be "distinct", it must have characters that easily distinguish it from any other known cultivar. To be "uniform" and "stable", the cultivar must retain these characters in repeated propagation.
The naming of cultivars is an important aspect of cultivated plant taxonomy, and the correct naming of a cultivar is prescribed by the Rules and Recommendations of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP, commonly denominated the Cultivated Plant Code). A cultivar is given a cultivar name, which consists of the scientific Latin botanical name followed by a cultivar epithet. The cultivar epithet is usually in a vernacular language. For example, the full cultivar name of the King Edward potato is Solanum tuberosum 'King Edward'. 'King Edward' is the cultivar epithet, which, according to the Rules of the Cultivated Plant Code, is bounded by single quotation marks.Democrat Party (epithet)
Democrat Party is an epithet for the Democratic Party in the United States, used in a disparaging fashion by the party's opponents. While historical and occasional current usage includes non-hostile appearances (including from within that party), the term has grown in its negative use since the 1940s, in particular by members of the Republican Party—in party platforms, partisan speeches, and press releases—as well as by conservative commentators. While there is grammatical argument regarding the propriety of use of both of the terms, with ending and without, ongoing use of the shortened term for political ends is a source of irritation to members of the Democratic Party.Dyke (slang)
The term dyke or dike is a slang noun meaning lesbian; it is also a slang adjective describing things associated with lesbianism. It originated as a homophobic and misogynistic slur for a masculine, tomboyish, or butch woman; while this pejorative usage still exists, the term dyke has been reappropriated by lesbians to an extent as a word implying assertiveness and toughness, or simply as a neutral synonym for lesbian.Faggot (slang)
Faggot, often shortened to fag, is a pejorative term used chiefly in North America primarily to refer to a gay male. Alongside its use to refer to gay men in particular, it may also be used as a pejorative term for a "repellent male" or to refer to women who are lesbian. Its use has spread from the United States to varying extents elsewhere in the English-speaking world through mass culture, including film, music, and the Internet.Fascist (insult)
Since the emergence of fascism in Europe in the first half of the 20th century, the term "fascist" has frequently been used as a pejorative epithet against a wide range of individuals, political movements, governments, public and private institutions, including those that would not usually be classified as fascist in mainstream political science. It usually serves as an emotionally loaded substitute for authoritarian.As early as 1944, British writer George Orwell commented that following its widespread use in the European press "the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless" due to its non-specific use detached from its original political associations.Genus
A genus (, pl. genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.
E.g. Panthera leo (lion) and Panthera onca (jaguar) are two species within the genus Panthera. Panthera is a genus within the family Felidae.The composition of a genus is determined by a taxonomist. The standards for genus classification are not strictly codified, so different authorities often produce different classifications for genera. There are some general practices used, however, including the idea that a newly defined genus should fulfill these three criteria to be descriptively useful:
monophyly – all descendants of an ancestral taxon are grouped together (i.e. phylogenetic analysis should clearly demonstrate both monophyly and validity as a separate lineage).
reasonable compactness – a genus should not be expanded needlessly; and
distinctness – with respect to evolutionarily relevant criteria, i.e. ecology, morphology, or biogeography; DNA sequences are a consequence rather than a condition of diverging evolutionary lineages except in cases where they directly inhibit gene flow (e.g. postzygotic barriers).Moreover, genera should be composed of phylogenetic units of the same kind as other (analogous) genera.Infraspecific name
In botany, an infraspecific name is the scientific name for any taxon below the rank of species, i.e. an infraspecific taxon. (A "taxon", plural "taxa", is a group of organisms to be given a particular name.) The scientific names of botanical taxa are regulated by the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). This specifies a 'three part name' for infraspecific taxa, plus a 'connecting term' to indicate the rank of the name. An example of such a name is Astrophytum myriostigma subvar. glabrum, the name of a subvariety of the species Astrophytum myriostigma (bishop's hat cactus).
Names below the rank of species of cultivated kinds of plants and of animals are regulated by different codes of nomenclature and are formed somewhat differently.List of Roman deities
The Roman deities most familiar today are those the Romans identified with Greek counterparts (see interpretatio graeca), integrating Greek myths, iconography, and sometimes religious practices into Roman culture, including Latin literature, Roman art, and religious life as it was experienced throughout the Empire. Many of the Romans' own gods remain obscure, known only by name and sometimes function, through inscriptions and texts that are often fragmentary. This is particularly true of those gods belonging to the archaic religion of the Romans dating back to the era of kings, the so-called "religion of Numa", which was perpetuated or revived over the centuries. Some archaic deities have Italic or Etruscan counterparts, as identified both by ancient sources and by modern scholars. Throughout the Empire, the deities of peoples in the provinces were given new theological interpretations in light of functions or attributes they shared with Roman deities.
An extensive alphabetical list follows a survey of theological groups as constructed by the Romans themselves. For the cult pertaining to deified Roman emperors (divi), see Imperial cult.List of ethnic slurs
The following is a list of ethnic slurs (ethnophaulisms) that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity, or to refer to them in a derogatory (that is, critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or otherwise insulting manner.
Some of the terms listed below (such as "Gringo", "Yank", etc.) are used by many people all over the world as part of their ordinary speech or thinking without any intention of causing offence.
For the purposes of this list, an ethnic slur is a term designed to insult others on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality. Each term is listed followed by its country or region of usage, a definition, and a reference to that term.
Ethnic slurs may also be produced as a racial epithet by combining a general-purpose insult with the name of ethnicity, such as "dirty Jew", "Russian pig", etc. Other common insulting modifiers include "dog", "filthy", etc. Such terms are not included in this list.Rake (stock character)
In a historical context, a rake (short for rakehell, analogous to "hellraiser") was a man who was habituated to immoral conduct, particularly womanising. Often, a rake was also prodigal, wasting his (usually inherited) fortune on gambling, wine, women and song, and incurring lavish debts in the process. Comparable terms are "libertine" and "debauchee".
The Restoration rake was a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat whose heyday was during the English Restoration period (1660–1688) at the court of Charles II. They were typified by the "Merry Gang" of courtiers, who included as prominent members the Earl of Rochester; George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham; and the Earl of Dorset, who combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts. At this time the rake featured as a stock character in Restoration comedy.After the reign of Charles II, and especially after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the cultural perception of the rake took a dive into squalor. The rake became the butt of moralistic tales, in which his typical fate was debtor's prison, venereal disease, or, in the case of William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress, insanity in Bedlam.Rudra
Rudra (; Sanskrit: रुद्र) is a Rigvedic deity, associated with wind or storm and the hunt. One translation of the name is "the roarer". In the Rigveda, Rudra has been praised as the "mightiest of the mighty". Rudra is the personification of 'terror'. Depending up on the poetic situation, Rudra can be meant as the most severe roarer/howler
(could be a hurricane or tempest) or the most frightening one. The Shri Rudram hymn from the Yajurveda is dedicated to Rudra, and is important in the Saivism sect. In it Rudra is referred as God of Gods.The Hindu god Shiva shares several features with the Rudra: the theonym Shiva originated as an epithet of Rudra, the adjective shiva ("kind") being used euphemistically of Rudra, who also carries the epithet Aghora, Abhayankar ("extremely calm [sic] non terrifying"). Usage of the epithet came to exceed the original theonym by the post-Vedic period (in the Sanskrit Epics), and the name Rudra has been taken as a synonym for the god Shiva and the two names are used interchangeably.Specific name (zoology)
In zoological nomenclature, the specific name (also specific epithet or species epithet) is the second part (the second name) within the scientific name of a species (a binomen). The first part of the name of a species is the name of the genus or the generic name. The rules and regulations governing the giving of a new species name are explained in the article species description.
The scientific name for humans is Homo sapiens, which is the species name, consisting of two names: Homo is the "generic name" (the name of the genus) and sapiens is the "specific name".The Venerable
The Venerable is used as a style or epithet in several Christian churches. It is also the common English-language translation of a number of Buddhist titles, and is used as a word of praise in some cases.Uncle Tom
Uncle Tom is the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. The term "Uncle Tom" is also used as a derogatory epithet for an exceedingly subservient person, particularly when that person is aware of their own lower-class status based on race. The use of the epithet is the result of later works derived from the original novel.