Ep"och (ĕp"ŏk or ē"pŏk;
277), n. [LL. epocha, Gr.
'epochh` check, stop, an epoch of a star, an historical
epoch, fr. 'epe`chein to hold on, check; 'epi`
upon + 'e`chein to have, hold; akin to Skr. sah to
overpower, Goth. sigis victory, AS. sigor, sige,
G. sieg: cf. F. époque. See Scheme.]
1. A fixed point of time, established in history
by the occurrence of some grand or remarkable event; a point of time
marked by an event of great subsequent influence; as, the
epoch of the creation; the birth of Christ was the
epoch which gave rise to the Christian era.
In divers ages, . . . divers epochs of time
were used. Usher.
Great epochs and crises in the kingdom of
The acquittal of the bishops was not the only event
which makes the 30th of June, 1688, a great epoch in
☞ Epochs mark the beginning of new historical periods,
and dates are often numbered from them.
2. A period of time, longer or shorter,
remarkable for events of great subsequent influence; a memorable
period; as, the epoch of maritime discovery, or of the
Reformation. "So vast an epoch of time." F.
The influence of Chaucer continued to live even during
the dreary interval which separates from one another two important
epochs of our literary history. A. W.
3. (Geol.) A division of time
characterized by the prevalence of similar conditions of the earth;
commonly a minor division or part of a period.
The long geological epoch which stored up the
vast coal measures. J. C. Shairp.
4. (Astron.) (a) The
date at which a planet or comet has a longitude or position.
(b) An arbitrary fixed date, for which the
elements used in computing the place of a planet, or other heavenly
body, at any other date, are given; as, the epoch of Mars;
lunar elements for the epoch March 1st, 1860.
Syn. -- Era; time; date; period; age. -- Epoch,
Era. We speak of the era of the Reformation, when we
think of it as a period, during which a new order of things
prevailed; so also, the era of good feeling, etc. Had we been
thinking of the time as marked by certain great events, or as a
period in which great results were effected, we should have called
the times when these events happened epochs, and the whole
period an epoch.
The capture of Constantinople is an epoch in
the history of Mahometanism; but the flight of Mahomet is its
era. C. J. Smith.