What is the term for the literary use of a 'descriptor' in place of a proper name, as in Shakespeare's play Much Ado about Nothing, when Benedict refers to Beatrice as "Lady Disdain" instead of Lady Beatrice?

  • 1
    Looks like antonomasia.
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


The term epithet conveys your meaning. Accoridng to American Heritage

A term used as a descriptive substitute for the name or title of a person, such as The Great Emancipator for Abraham Lincoln.

Similarly Compact OED defines it as

an adjective or phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned

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