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An epithet is a nickname or descriptive term that’s added to someone’s name that becomes part of common usage. For example, in the name Alexander the Great, “the Great” is an epithet. The definition of epithet has changed more recently and has come to mean something negative or derogatory; however, in general an epithet is a glorified nickname.

Source: https://literarydevices.com/epithet/

"Epithet" has unfortunately come to acquire negative connotations, as we often use it to mean "term of abuse" in the modern usage of the word. Source example: epithet: ... 1b: a disparaging or abusive word or phrase

The following alternatives were considered but weren't suitable:

  • appellation,
  • cognomen,
  • title.

Any other synonyms you can suggest?

I'm after a synonym for "epithet" in its traditional sense, to describe titles like "Julius the Merciful", "Jordan the Irresistible", "Mike the Mightiest Mascot", etc.

But importantly, I seek a synonym without the negative connotations of "epithet" which can be conflated with "term of abuse" in modern usage. In BrE and AmE, we describe a mob as "jeering and hurling epithets".

Example of a sentence where the negative connotation is problematic: "The winning team had the right to choose an epithet for themselves, in honour of their victory."

The above can trivially be converted into an example sentence for the requested word:

The winning team had the right to choose a[n] ______ for themselves, in honour of their victory.

"Epithet" in the traditional sense of "Plinius the Elder" is limited to historical academia, so that greatly limits the utility of the word in the example sentence.

Since I've most often heard the word "epithet" being used in a disparaging sense, I think my question is valid, to those voting to close it.

It's virtually mainstream usage of the word "epithet" to mean a term of disparagement. Source provided by @Mitch: epithet: ... 1b: a disparaging or abusive word or phrase

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    I’m voting to close this question because it's predicated on the false perception that "epithet" has negative connotations Jul 5 '21 at 17:20
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    I’m voting to close this question because it is a loaded question, i.e., a question based on a false premise, that premise specifically being that a replacement word for "epithet" is required as "epithet" has come to innately bear a negative connotation. Jul 5 '21 at 20:35
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jul 5 '21 at 20:56
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    I am voting to reopen. This is not a false premise: "Epithet" has unfortunately come to acquire negative connotations, as we often use it to mean "term of abuse" in the modern usage of the word. Jul 7 '21 at 4:30
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You could try "sobriquet" but that's more like a nickname.

However, Wikipedia agrees that a sobriquet is "descriptive in nature."

Merriam Webster says that a sobriquet is a "descriptive name or epithet."

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