Word of the Day


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1. a moment when you suddenly realize or understand something important

2. 6th January, celebrated by Christians as the day that the baby Jesus Christ was visited by three kings or wise men, according to the Bible

Origin and usage

The noun Epiphany comes from a Greek word,  ‘epiphainein’, meaning ‘reveal’. The first use in English was of the religious meaning, in the early 14th century. The secular meaning, which is written with lower case ‘e’, came later. It was first used in the 17th century to mean an appearance of a divine or supernatural being, and only came to have the meaning that is in common use today, a moment of revelation, in the 19th century. This meaning has weakened over time and is now often used simply to refer to a moment of insight or realization.


In the Christian calendar, Epiphany is the celebration of the day when the baby Jesus was visited by three wise men or kings who travelled from the East to bring him gifts. The date of this festival, 6th January in the Western Church, is seen by many as the end of the Christmas period. It is often referred to as Twelfth Night, although confusingly the twelfth night after Christmas is actually the evening of 5th January, the day before Epiphany. In many countries, the feast of the Epiphany is an occasion for traditional celebrations of various kinds and in some it is also a public holiday.


“I had an epiphany a few years ago when I was out at a celebrity party and it suddenly dawned on me that I had yet to meet a celebrity who is as smart and interesting as any of my friends.”

Related words

turning point, watershed, crossroads

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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