Definition of epistle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪˈpɪs(ə)l/


formal or humorous
1A letter: activists firing off angry epistles
More example sentences
  • The opinions expressed in these evocative epistles were remarkably forthright and revealing.
  • Regardless of the content of the epistle, there is still something exciting about receiving an email or a letter from someone close.
  • When he failed to receive payment, he followed up with letters, and these hilarious epistles are what he shared with us.
letter, missive, communication, written message, written communication, dispatch, report, bulletin, note, line;
correspondence, news, information, intelligence, word;
Roman Catholic Church  encyclical
1.1A poem or other literary work in the form of a letter or series of letters.
Example sentences
  • His verse is both metrically and formally experimental, ranging from satire to love lyric, from sonnet to verse epistle, from elegy to hymn.
  • In the letter that directly precedes the epistle containing his translation, Petrarch presents a series of arguments contradicting Boccaccio's request that he take literary retirement on account of his old age.
  • Ovid's Heroides, verse epistles from women abandoned by their famous lovers, was tremendously popular in the first decades of print.
1.2 (Epistle) A book of the New Testament in the form of a letter from an Apostle: St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans
More example sentences
  • Did St. Paul write the Epistle to the Ephesians?
  • From 1511 to 1517, Luther lectured on the Psalms and St. Paul's Epistles to the Romans.
  • But that's the first time I've ever heard anyone refer to the epistles of Paul as ‘simple and unambiguous.’
1.3An extract from an Epistle (or another New Testament book not a Gospel) that is read in a church service.
Example sentences
  • The epistle and gospel were read in both Latin and English.
  • The risen Lord's message to his disciples speaks of forgiveness and sin, and our epistle reading reminds us of our own sinful state.
  • Both the epistle and gospel readings for this Sunday describe sending out those who will gather others together.


Old English, via Latin from Greek epistolē, from epistellein 'send news', from epi 'upon, in addition' + stellein 'send'. The word was reintroduced in Middle English from Old French.

Words that rhyme with epistle

abyssal, bristle, gristle, missal, scissel, thistle, whistle

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: epis¦tle

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