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According to google one of the meanings of the word epitome is:a summary of a written work; an abstract. So can I use this word to say "This theorem is the epitome of this lecture". Is this usage correct?

  • I can't find any references, so I'm making this a comment rather than an answer, but I believe to differentiate between the two uses, one would use "the" or "an". In your example, it sounds like you're using "epitome" as meaning "a typical or ideal example," whereas if you said, "This theorem is an epitome of this lecture," I think the meaning would be clear. That having been said, there are still those unfamiliar with the summary definition that would be confused. – BillDOe Sep 23 '15 at 5:41
  • @BillOer, OP did use "the". – JEL Sep 23 '15 at 5:43
  • @JEL, your brain probably read "the" when I actually changed the quote to include "an". – BillDOe Sep 23 '15 at 5:46
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    Too late to edit original comment; let me clarify. To me "the epitome" means "a typical or ideal example," "an epitome" would mean a summary. – BillDOe Sep 23 '15 at 5:50
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    @BillOer, changing the article does clarify the sense intended, because there's only one epitome but hypothetically an infinite number of summaries. However, the use is nominally correct with either article. My objection to the use is that it is unlikely to communicate what is intended, not that the use is incorrect. The context could make the intended sense clear, unlikely as it is that a theorem summarizes a lecture. I'm thinking along the lines of "does the definition epitomize your question?" If "no", equally a theorem is unlikely to summarize a lecture. – JEL Sep 23 '15 at 5:58
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"Epitome" is used in the post in such a way, that it fails to convey the intended meaning.

EPITOME means summary, synopsis or 'sum and substance' and we are habituated to use "epitomise" in the same way as we use 'summarise'.

It seems the entire lecture is elucidating a theorem. "--" text should be given a rendering the other way round so that it can bring out the actual meaning of epitome.

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I think I found similar usage from usage of the word epitome

But "an epitome" would mean "an abstract."

An epitome of what has been written on this subject will be found in chapter 3.

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"Epitome" is more than a summary, a synopsis or an abstract: it's an abbreviated version of a written work.

Reader's Digest publishes every month epitomes of articles appearing in a wide variety of journals or books.

Saying "this theorem is the epitome of this lecture" is then unappopriate: the theorem may be the core of the document, but it is not a reduced/shortened version of the text.

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