Sunday, September 18, 2016

Interesting words: Epigone

Definition: According to Wiktionary, epigone has two meanings:
  1. A follower or disciple
  2. An  undistinguished or inferior imitator
I have seen it used only in the second sense and I don't see the purpose of the first: Disciple does the job.  Also, some other dictionaries only give the second sense.

Pronuciation: e-pə-ˌgōn

Origin: The Online Etymology Dictionary says epigone comes from Greek epigonoi ( ἐπίγονοι) with the prefix epi- (close in time) combining with -gonos (offspring).  Wiktionary adds to the picture with a route through Latin epigoni and then French épigones.

Why use it?  Such a lot of meaning in one word! And, it's useful.

Examples:  In an age of genius, Isaac Newton had many epigones but few equals.

Where I read it: I read this word in Modernity and its Discontents by Steven Smith (link goes to my review).  I also read it in China Mieville's Perdido Street Station where he has this line:
In another twist to the myth, his Head of Department, the ageless and loathsome Vermishank, was not a plodding epigone but an exceptional bio-thaumaturge.

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