Wednesday Word of the Week: epic

epic (EH-pihk) noun. long story of a hero and his or her adventure This definition makes me think of high school English class—of reading “The Odyssey” and wondering when, just when, is Odysseus going to make it home? (The night of June 16, 1904.—Ed.) I tried, just now, making a sentence using epic as a noun, for example, “Do you want to read an epic?” It’s cumbersome. And I’d even say archaic. I much prefer the word as an adjective meaning impressive and cool. I first became aware of the usefulness of this four-letter descriptor while visiting California with my best friend. We rolled into San Francisco late one May evening to stay with my friend’s cousins. They promptly took us for a drive in their neighborhood to show us the epic views across the bay. As we talked about our plans for the next day, we learned that Mexican food in the Mission neighborhood is epic and that the best way to fully appreciate the epic-ness of the Golden Gate is to walk across it. Photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge. A couple days later we drove south on Highway 1. We oohed and aahed at views while blasting music and singing along to the radio. We stopped for a hike to a waterfall. We ran in the sand. We ogled surfers. We learned about the intricacies of kite surfing from a dude named Sargon. We ate fresh apricots at a farm stand. Photograph of a beach. It was the most epic drive of my life. I love the way this little word connotes big things, whether it’s a lengthy tale or way to describe anything amazing. What’s epic in your life? Photograph of a beach. Written by Jessica Shea, National Geographic Center for Geo-Education.

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