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See also: Epiphany



From Middle English epiphanie, from Old French epyphanie, from Late Latin epiphania, from Ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια (epipháneia, manifestation, striking appearance), from ἐπιφαίνω (epiphaínō, I appear, display), from ἐπί (epí, upon) + φαίνω (phaínō, I shine, appear). English Epiphany (of Christ) since the 14th century, generic use since the 17th century.



epiphany (plural epiphanies)

  1. An illuminating realization or discovery, often resulting in a personal feeling of elation, awe, or wonder.
    Synonyms: aha moment, enlightenment, nirvana, satori
    It came to her in an epiphany what her life's work was to be.
    • 1989, Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces, Faber & Faber, published 2009:
      Instead of examining institutions and classes, structures of economic production and social control, one had to think about “moments”—moments of love, hate, poetry, frustration, action, surrender, delight, humiliation, justice, cruelty, resignation, surprise, disgust, resentment, self-loathing, pity, fury, peace of mind—those tiny epiphanies, Lefebvre said, in which the absolute possibilities and temporal limits of anyone's existence were revealed.
    • 2013, Chris Hadfield, chapter 11, in An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Pan Macmillan, →ISBN:
      But after spending most of my pocket money to get those developed, I had an epiphany: I was never going to be a professional photographer. My pictures were god-awful. I put the camera away.
    • 2023 May 9, Jay Caspian Kang, “Tony Hsieh and the Emptiness of the Tech-Mogul Myth”, in The New Yorker[1]:
      The logic of the standard biography—a formative event leads to an epiphany that creates the great man—doesn’t quite work when the greatness doesn’t have much to do with the man at all.
  2. A manifestation or appearance of a divine or superhuman being.
    Synonym: theophany
    • 1981, William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, London: Rider/Hutchinson & Co., page 129:
      The ithyphallic bird-man is the climactic, ecstatic, instantaneous male principle confronting the enormous, slow, bovine, and enduring principle of the eternal feminine in her epiphany as the bison.
  3. (Christianity) Alternative letter-case form of Epiphany.

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