epistle

\ \ [14] Epistle has never really caught on in English as a general term for a ‘letter’ – too highfalutin – but in fact from a semantic point of view its origins are quite simple. It comes ultimately from Greek epistolé, which meant ‘something sent to someone’. This was a derivative of epistéllein, a compound verb formed from the prefix epí- ‘to’ and stelleinsend’ (as in apostle, literally ‘someone sent out’). English actually acquired the word for the first time during the Anglo-Saxon period, directly from Latin epistola, and it survived into the 16th century in the reduced form pistle. In the 14th century, however, it was reborrowed, via Old French, as epistle.
\ \ Cf.APOSTLE

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

Synonyms:

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  • Epistle — E*pis tle, n. [OE. epistle, epistel, AS. epistol, pistol, L. epistola, fr. Gr. ? anything sent by a messenger, message, letter, fr. ? to send to, tell by letter or message; epi upon, to + ? to dispatch, send; cf. OF. epistle, epistre, F. [… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • epistle — refers primarily to the letters of the New Testament, e.g. the Epistle of St Paul the Apostle to the Romans. It is sometimes used ironically or whimsically to mean a letter of any kind: • When mischievous gossip columnists were prompted to… …   Modern English usage

  • epistle — O.E. epistol, from O.Fr. epistle, epistre (Mod.Fr. épitre), from L. epistola letter, from Gk. epistole message, letter, command, commission, whether verbal or in writing, from epistellein send to, from epi to (see EPI (Cf. epi )) + …   Etymology dictionary

  • epistle — ► NOUN 1) formal or humorous a letter. 2) (Epistle) a book of the New Testament in the form of a letter from an Apostle. ORIGIN Greek epistol , from epistellein send news …   English terms dictionary

  • epistle — [ē pis′əl] n. [ME epistel < OFr epistle (& OE epistol) < L epistola, epistula < Gr epistolē, a letter, message < epistellein, to send to < epi , to + stellein, to send, summon: see STALK1] 1. a letter, esp. a long, formal,… …   English World dictionary

  • Epistle — E*pis tle, v. t. To write; to communicate in a letter or by writing. [Obs.] Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • epistle — index dispatch (message) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Epistle — [ıˈpısəl] n one of the letters in the New Testament of the Bible …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • epistle — *letter, missive, note, message, dispatch, report, memorandum …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • epistle — [n] letter billet doux*, cannonball*, card, communication, dispatch, FYI*, get well, invite, kite*, line*, love letter, memo, message, missive, note, poison pen*, postcard, scratch*, tab*, thank you; concept 271 …   New thesaurus

  • Epistle — An epistle (pronounced [ɪˈpɪsəl] ) (Greek επιστολη, epistolē, letter ) is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of persons, usually a letter and a very formal, often didactic and elegant one. The letters in the New Testament from… …   Wikipedia

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