• epigone •
e-pê-gon • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A follower of a distinguished artist or philosopher. 2. A second-rate imitator.
Notes: Today's Good Word has a synonym without the final E: epigon. This word has a possible plural epigoni, but epigons is also acceptable. Today's word, epigone, has but one plural, epigones, though it comes with an adjective, epigonic, and an abstract qualitative noun, epigonism.
In Play: Today's Good Word has a neutral meaning, just a follower: "Keynesian epigone Paul Samuelson achieved higher recognition than Keynes himself." It also has the negative sense of a cheap imitator: "Rhoda Book is just an etiolate epigone of Danielle Steel."
Word History: English picked this word up from French épigone, which got it from Greek epigonos "born after", composed of epi "on, near, after" + gonos "child, seed". Gonos comes from a PIE root, gen-/gon- "beget, give birth", which begat a plethora of words across Indo-European languages. They include many Latin words that English borrowed, including gender, generate and genus. It came though Old German directly to English as kin, kind and king. It turns up in German as Kind "child", which English borrowed in kindergarten. Many, many more words flowed from gen-/gon-. (Today's Good Word has been suggested by Susan of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, right down the road from alphaDictionary.)