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An epithet (from
In contemporary use, epithet often refers to an abusive, defamatory, or derogatory phrase, such as a
Epithets are sometimes attached to a person's name or appear in place of his or her name, as what might be described as a glorified nickname or
Some epithets are known by the Latin term epitheton necessarium because they are required to distinguish the bearers, e.g. as an alternative to numbers after a prince's name—such as Richard the Lionheart (
Other epithets can easily be omitted without serious risk of confusion, and are therefore known (again in Latin) as epitheton ornans. Thus the classical Roman author Virgil systematically called his main hero pius Aeneas, the epithet being pius, which means religiously observant, humble and wholesome, as well as calling the armsbearer of Aeneas fidus Achates, the epithet being fidus, which means faithful or loyal.