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From Medieval Latin epocha, from Ancient Greek ἐποχή (epokhḗ, a check, cessation, stop, pause, epoch of a star, i.e., the point at which it seems to halt after reaching the highest, and generally the place of a star; hence, a historical epoch), from ἐπέχειν (epékhein, to hold in, check), from ἐπί (epí, upon) + ἔχειν (ékhein, to have, hold).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈiː.pɒk/, /ˈɛp.ək/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɛp.ək/, /ˈɛp.ɑk/, /ˈip.ɑk/
  • (file)


epoch (plural epochs)

  1. A particular period of history, especially one considered remarkable or noteworthy.
    • 2012 January 1, Donald Worster, “A Drier and Hotter Future”, American Scientist, volume 100, number 1, page 70: 
      Phoenix and Lubbock are both caught in severe drought, and it is going to get much worse. We may see many such [dust] storms in the decades ahead, along with species extinctions, radical disturbance of ecosystems, and intensified social conflict over land and water. Welcome to the Anthropocene, the epoch when humans have become a major geological and climatic force.
  2. A notable event which marks the beginning of such a period.
  3. (astronomy) A precise instant of time that is used as a reference point.
  4. (computing, uncountable) A precise instant of time that is used as a reference point (e.g. January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 UTC).


  • a particular period in history: era; age (epoch is a subcategory of era and/or age)

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