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The semantic shift of epic from denoting something related with heroism, grandeur, etc. to meaning something more akin to awesome or impressive is well-attested. However, how much is its older meaning still largely accepted? — For example,

The plot of Interstellar is more epic than that of Gravity.

could mean

  1. The plot of Interstellar is more awesome than that of Gravity.

  2. The plot of Interstellar has more elements akin to epic poetry that of Gravity does.

However, even for me, the sentence above seems at first to have the meaning of example 1. If I say the sentence aloud (with relatively flat intonation), however, the meaning shifts more towards example 2; Only if I have a particular tone (an "that was totally awesome!" type of tone) does example 1 still come up. Does this mean that the second meaning is no longer largely accepted, or am I just spending too much time online?

  • Yes. It only depends on your audience – Unrelated Jun 28 '17 at 5:18
  • Of course awesome underwent a similar shift, to the meaning you use. – Chris H Jun 28 '17 at 6:44
  • @Unrelated yes, just like you can use "terrible" to mean "awe-inspiring"... If you're talking to someone who was born a couple hundred years ago. – errantlinguist Jun 28 '17 at 14:46
  • @errantlinguist True, and you can use "epic" and all your philistine friends will think you're on a long-expired drug trip – Unrelated Jun 28 '17 at 21:33

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