What is an epithet?

What is an epithet?

  • Epithet

    EPITETE (Greek, attached) the term stylistics and poetics, denoting the word definition, accompanying the word defined. The tradition, which goes back from the ancient views, distinguishes the necessary epithet (epitheton necessarium) and adorns the epithet (epitheton ornans). Under the first, such a definition, which limits the scope of the concept being defined, is understood; the necessary epithet thereby merges with the word being defined into a single word combination and can not be omitted without changing the basic meaning of the concept being expressed; in other words, the necessary epithet is an integral part of the phrase in which it enters, expressing the distinctive feature of the subject. For example, the Russian language, the ancient world, a rabid dog. On the contrary, under the adornment of an epithet, there is of course such a definition, which expresses one or another property distinguished in a particular, separate subject of thought. For example, a ruddy dawn, timid breathing, a zealous horse. But, since the epithet is a concept of stylistics and poetics (see these words), its division into such traditional categories seems superfluous. The term necessary epithet can be completely eliminated, since it embraces the phenomena of a non-stylistic order, and besides the necessary epithet can not be considered in isolation from the word under which it stands, forming with it a logical unity. The term adorning the epithet, based on a narrow and arbitrary view of poetic expression as a decoration of speech, can be replaced by the term simply an epithet, under which all kinds of definitions must be understood that are not related to the first category of so-called. necessary epithets. Thus, in the expression of the great, mighty, truthful and free Russian language (Turgenev), only the first four adjectives should be considered epithets. Or at Lermontov: In the sandy steppes of the Arabian sandy land there is an epithet, but the Arabian is only a definition, but not an epithet.

    Therefore, we can say that the epithet is a definition of a word that affects its expressiveness (Gornfeld), or a definition that distinguishes in the subject of thought that its attribute, or property, that is essential for a given expression. The epithet expresses a certain attitude of the poet, or generally speaking person, to the subject in question. The epithet, as it were, gives an individual color to the expressed object, casts a certain light on it and makes the object stylistically significant. That is why the epithet is one of the most important and essential concepts of stylistics, and it is not an exaggeration of the words of Alexander Veselovsky that the history of the epithet is a history of poetic style in a shortened edition, nor the words of Richard M. Meier (Deutsche Stilistik, p. 50) that the modern practical style must first of all be the technique of the epithet. The poet's individuality, poetic style, perhaps, is expressed most precisely in epithets.

    The epithet can be realized in different grammatical forms. Already from the antiquity, under the epithet of course, not only the adjective, but also the noun definition (that is, called attachment). Wed for example, in Pushkin: a maiden rose, a mischievous winter; or epithet noun in conjunction with the adjective: Queen of the terrible plague, rhyme sonorous girlfriend. But the adverb or the adverbial participle are the forms of expressing the epithet, namely, when the verb is the word to be determined. The epithet in this case coincides with the syntactic concept of the circumstance. For example: And incredulously, and I'm hungrily looking at your flowers; Shining among wide fields, Here it is pouring! .. Hello Don! (Pushkin); Prophetically he talked with a thunderstorm or played merrily with marshmallows; The waves rush and sparkle (Tyutchev). The epithetical nature is revealed later in such phrases of speech, where, at first sight, an epithet can not be found. For example, the expression of the blue sea, with an obvious adjectival epithet, can be given in such verbal form as the blue of the sea, where the noun of the blue can be regarded as an epithet given only in a grammatical variation consisting in the fact that the definition of the adjective was substantivized, The noun changed its case form. (The general epithetical nature of both these turns of speech is clearly evident, for example, in Tyutchev's verse, Lazur of Heaven and the blue sea, where different grammatical constructions are directly apparent variations of style and nothing more. Wed also Elster. Prinzipien der Literaturwissenschaft. 2 Band. Stilistik, p. 160). But there is no reason to dwell here, limiting the epithet to the grammatical forms considered. Further variation of the same expression of the blue sea, we can imagine in the form of a blue sea, where the bearer of the epithet is already a verb. From this point of view, for example, in Pushkin's verse noisy and foaming shafts one can see a peculiar form of expression of the epithet, as if the variation of the expression is noisy and foaming shafts. Everywhere here, obviously, we are dealing with an epithet (albeit in a latent form), since this term denotes a certain phenomenon of poetic thinking, which is only realized in various grammatical variations caused by stylistic considerations or demands. Certain forms of expression of the epithet can prevail in one or another poetic school, from this or that poet and thus characterize his poetic style. Thus, for Homer, its composite epithets are characteristic (cloud-collector Zeus, rose-finger dawn) also for Derzhavin, Tyutchev, and others; for Zhukovsky sacrament epithets (zlatimy, razaima, we listen to the gods. See A-dr Veselovsky, Zhukovsky p. 487); for our folk poetry epithets of application (Tsar-maiden, Vladimir the Red sun, baba-yaga bone leg); for the symbolists of the end of the 19-th beginning of the 20-th century a special kind of substantivized epithets of adjectives (abstraction of the epithet in the terminology of V. М. Zhirmunsky), which often forms neologisms. (For example, Balmont: Yes, I know sweetness, dullness, tenderness of moist lips, in Bryusov's: to the tender sweetness of lips, P.).

    A special place is occupied in folk poetry so-called. permanent epithets (epitheta perpetua), invariably accompanying the word they define, regardless of their relevance in context. For example, the swan is white, the sea is blue, the maiden is red, the tour is golden horns; Homer Achilles fast-footed even when he is portrayed sitting; or in the Russian song a combination of two permanent epithets that form an internal contradiction: Do not burn a tall candle, A burning candle, an old wax; or: white hands, even if they belonged to arabin and others.


  • Epithets are an appendix to a word that fills its content with greater brilliance and expressiveness. Poetry, and literature in general, are not conceivable without epithets, which can be expressed by an adjective, a verb, a noun. Without epithets speech would be emotionally impoverished. Epithets tend to emphasize or reinforce the characteristic quality. Speaking of high speed will say - lightning fast. Thus, the epithet is a poetic device, giving the speech the necessary imagery.

  • Epithet in literature is called a bright and figurative adjective. For example, the word "beautiful"; may well be an epithet. There are a lot of epithets in fiction and poetry. Epithet gives expressiveness to the phrase.

  • The word epithet is of Greek origin and is literally translated, as added, attached. As a rule, the epithet is used to impart a certain artistic characteristic to a phenomenon or object. For example: angelic light, ruddy dawn ...

  • Epithet in the Russian language and literature, a fairly common means of expressiveness of speech, and we can safely say that without epithets speech would be poor, boring and inexpressive, since they greatly simplify the perception of some useful information for a person. Accordingly, there are two main types of epithets, these are:

    • author (used by writers)
    • common (those that are used by us in our daily life)

    By the way, in oral folklore, epithets can not only express all sorts of emotions and moods, but they can literally describe different objects and phenomena, taking into account their physical properties and attributes, for example "red maiden".

  • An epithet is an imaginative artistic definition of an object or phenomenon that will give it greater expressiveness.

    You can say that the epithets adorn our speech, make it vivid and imaginative (this, of course, for those who use epithets). Here's to compare: you can just say a round or bright moon, or you can pick up the epithet to her alone, sad, frosty, cold, dull The use of this or that epithet of imparting certain characteristics to the moon, changes the entire picture presented.

  • What is an epithet ... this is a certain definition of a phenomenon, an object, a certain thing, which usually fills its content even more with expressiveness and brightness. Usually epithets act as adjectives or adverbs.

  • An epithet is a prefix (appendix) to a word and is in particular adjective, but not necessarily, it is also an adverb or a noun or even a numeral. With the epithet the expression becomes quite different in meaning.

  • Hello!. It is often used in literary criticism. Epithets can be, as a word and an entire expression. Epithets are used to express and designate a phenomenon or some thing. Epithets are characterized by a comparison, expressed by a verb and an adverb, a noun, but most often by the name of an adjective. Examples of epithets: golden autumn, velvet skin, blue sea, crystal ringing, cold heart, airy rice, etc.

  • Epithet is a path. It is an inverse definition, the purpose of which is to emphasize some property of an event or object. Epithet has a special artistic expressiveness. The epithet performs a "decorating"; function.

    Epithets are permanent and unstable. Constant epithets are a red girl, a kind fellow and others.

    Eptites are usually adjectives, participles, more rarely - adverbs or nouns as an appendix.

    For example: a red rose, a bright voice.

  • Epithets serve to give the word extra brightness and expressiveness, for example, "beautiful person"; quot; Beautifulquot; - the epithet in this case. And the epithet can be not only one word, but the whole expression.

  • Epithet is one of the means in a language that is used to enhance expressiveness in both oral and written speech. An epithet can be either a single word or an expression that is not a semantic load that can strongly influence the expressiveness of other words and expressions of the text. Epithets can be different parts of speech. Often these are adjectives. For example, quot; passionatequot; desire, quot; white; hands, "clear"; lazuli and so on.

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