- A follower or disciple
- An undistinguished or inferior imitator
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.