An epitaph is an inscription on a gravestone. Famous for his comedic jabs at the City of Brotherly Love, writer W.C. Fields once said he wanted "I'd rather be living in Philadelphia" as the epitaph on his tombstone.

Once you trace this word back to its origins, you'll never forget its meaning. Forms of it show up in Middle English, Old French, Latin, and, before that, Greek: epi- "upon" and taphos "tomb." This gives us a mini history lesson on burial traditions. For thousands of years various societies have carved poetic, weepy, and witty words onto the monuments marking the final resting places of famous and infamous citizens.

Definitions of epitaph
  1. noun
    an inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried there
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    type of:
    inscription, lettering
    letters inscribed (especially words engraved or carved) on something
  2. noun
    a summary statement of commemoration for a dead person
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    type of:
    commemoration, memorial, remembrance
    a recognition of meritorious service
Commonly confused words

epitaph / epithet

An epitaph is written on a tombstone. An epithet is a nickname or a description of someone. Halloween graves often combine them: “Here lies Fearsome Frank, who bet that he could rob a bank.

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