In the last couple of Vocab Builders, we looked at Latin prefixes to help us learn more vocabulary because Latin has had such an influence on English. However, Greek is also a strong presence in English, so in the next two Vocab Builders we’ll look at Greek prefixes, starting with epi-, meaning in addition, above, or upon.
- epicenter, noun: center point of something.
The state, which sits at the epicenter of the nation’s most intense seismic activity, has two oceanside nuclear-power plants near active faults (two of which were discovered only after the plants were built) and in the bull’s-eye of tsunamis barreling across the Pacific. —Newsweek
- epigraph, noun: a witty statement that’s inscribed somewhere, such as on a building.
“War is a drug,” writes Christopher Hedges in the epigraph that precedes “The Hurt Locker.” —The Washington Post
- epoch, noun: a specific time in history.
We’ve had relatively few that trace influence the other way, Occident to Orient. (‘Royal Persian Painting: the Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925’ at the Brooklyn Museum a decade ago was a stellar exception.) —The New York Times
- eponym, noun: a person after whom something is named.
The registered name of Thao, the little girl in the photo, was Hoang Yen, the eponym of her father’s gold shop. Michigan Quarterly Review
- epidemic, noun: a quickly spreading outbreak of an infectious disease.
Just under 20 percent of Swaziland’s 1 million people are HIV positive, an epidemic fueled by poverty, a lack of medical resources, and a male-dominated and promiscuous culture in which polygamy is still common. —The Atlantic Monthly
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