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An adjective or adjectival phrase used to define a characteristic quality or attribute of some person or thing. Common in historical titles (Catherine the Great, Ethelred the Unready), ‘stock’ epithets have been used in poetry since Homer. The Homeric epithet is an adjective (usually a compound adjective) repeatedly used for the same thing or person: the wine-dark sea and rosy-fingered Dawn are famous examples. In the transferred epithet (or hypallage), an adjective appropriate to one noun is attached to another by association: thus in the phrase sick room it is not strictly the room that is sick but the person in it. Adjective: epithetic. See also antonomasia.

Subjects: Literature — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).

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