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See also: Epistle


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Borrowed from Old French epistre, from Latin epistola, from Ancient Greek ἐπιστολή (epistolḗ), from ἐπιστέλλω (epistéllō, I send a message), from ἐπί (epí, upon) + στέλλω (stéllō, I prepare, send).



epistle (plural epistles)

  1. A letter, or a literary composition in the form of a letter.
    • 1748David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section III, § 5.
      he may be hurried from this plan by the vehemence of thought, as in an ode, or drop it carelessly, as in an epistle or essay
    • 1915, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear
      "Dear me, Mr. Holmes. Dear me!" said this singular epistle. There was neither superscription nor signature. I laughed at the quaint message; but Holmes showed unwonted seriousness.
  2. (Christianity) One of the letters included as a book of the New Testament.
    • 1956 — Werner Keller (translated by William Neil), The Bible as History, revised English edition, Chapter 41, page 358
      Even last century scholars had begun to search for the cities in Asia Minor whose names have become so familiar to the Chistian world through the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul.

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epistle (third-person singular simple present epistles, present participle epistling, simple past and past participle epistled)

  1. (obsolete) To write; to communicate in a letter or by writing.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Milton to this entry?)