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Epitaph vs. Eulogy: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Updated on May 20, 2024
An epitaph is a brief inscription on a tombstone, honoring the deceased. A eulogy is a speech given at a funeral, celebrating the deceased's life and achievements.

Key Differences

An epitaph is a short inscription on a tombstone or memorial, commemorating the deceased. It often includes the person's name, dates, and a brief, poignant message. Epitaphs are typically concise due to space constraints. A eulogy, on the other hand, is a speech delivered at a funeral or memorial service, celebrating the life and achievements of the deceased. While an epitaph is limited in length, a eulogy provides a broader, more detailed tribute.
Epitaphs are usually written by the family or close friends of the deceased and can be found on gravestones in cemeteries. They are meant to provide a lasting memorial that passersby can read. Eulogies are spoken aloud during the funeral service and can be written by anyone close to the deceased, including family members, friends, or clergy.
While epitaphs are permanent and etched in stone, eulogies are transient and part of the funeral service. Epitaphs are designed to be seen and remembered by future generations, whereas eulogies are more personal and immediate, meant to provide comfort to the grieving audience.
Epitaphs tend to be more formal and succinct, often poetic or reflective in nature. Eulogies, conversely, can be more informal and personal, including stories, anecdotes, and personal reflections on the deceased's character and life.

Comparison Chart


Inscription on a tombstone
Speech given at a funeral


Short and concise
Longer, detailed


Written, etched in stone
Spoken, part of a ceremony




Formal and reflective
Personal and varied

Epitaph and Eulogy Definitions


A short text honoring a deceased person.
His epitaph simply stated, He lived to love.


A laudatory speech in honor of someone dead.
The eulogy was filled with touching anecdotes from his life.


A brief inscription on a tombstone.
The epitaph on her gravestone read, Beloved mother and wife.


A tribute given at a memorial service.
His eulogy captured the essence of her kindness.


Words etched on a memorial.
An epitaph engraved on the statue commemorated the fallen soldiers.


A speech praising someone who has died.
She delivered a heartfelt eulogy at her grandfather's funeral.


An inscription on a tombstone in memory of the one buried there.


A formal expression of praise for the deceased.
The eulogy recounted his many contributions to the community.


A brief literary piece commemorating a deceased person.


A laudatory speech or written tribute, especially one praising someone who has died.


An inscription on a gravestone in memory of the deceased.


High praise or commendation.


A poem or other short text written in memory of a deceased person.


An oration to honor a deceased person, usually at a funeral.


(intransitive) To write or speak after the manner of an epitaph.


Speaking highly of someone or something; the act of praising or commending someone or something.


(transitive) To commemorate by an epitaph.


A speech or writing in commendation of the character or services of a person; as, a fitting eulogy to worth.
Eulogies turn into elegies.


An inscription on, or at, a tomb, or a grave, in memory or commendation of the one buried there; a sepulchral inscription.
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb.


A formal expression of praise


A brief writing formed as if to be inscribed on a monument, as that concerning Alexander: "Sufficit huic tumulus, cui non sufficeret orbis."


An oration extolling the virtues of the deceased.
His best friend gave a moving eulogy during the service.


To commemorate by an epitaph.
Let me be epitaphed the inventor of English hexameters.


To write or speak after the manner of an epitaph.
The common in their speeches epitaph upon him . . . "He lived as a wolf and died as a dog."


An inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried there


A summary statement of commemoration for a dead person


A phrase or statement in memory of someone.
The epitaph highlighted his generous spirit.


Inscription marking someone's grave.
The epitaph at his grave site moved everyone to tears.


What is a eulogy?

A eulogy is a speech delivered at a funeral celebrating the deceased's life.

What is an epitaph?

An epitaph is a short inscription on a tombstone honoring the deceased.

Who typically writes an epitaph?

Family members or close friends usually write epitaphs.

Where can you find an epitaph?

Epitaphs are found on gravestones and memorials in cemeteries.

Who delivers a eulogy?

Eulogies are often delivered by family members, friends, or clergy.

Is an epitaph long or short?

An epitaph is typically short and concise.

Is a eulogy part of a funeral service?

Yes, a eulogy is part of the funeral service.

What is the tone of an epitaph?

The tone of an epitaph is usually formal and reflective.

Are epitaphs permanent?

Yes, epitaphs are etched in stone and meant to be permanent.

Can anyone write a eulogy?

Yes, anyone close to the deceased can write and deliver a eulogy.

Is a eulogy written or spoken?

A eulogy is a spoken tribute.

Are epitaphs visible to everyone?

Yes, epitaphs are meant to be read by anyone visiting the grave.

Is a eulogy a public or private speech?

A eulogy is a public speech given at a funeral or memorial service.

Is an epitaph a public or private message?

An epitaph is a public message on a gravestone.

Are eulogies recorded or preserved?

Sometimes eulogies are recorded, but they are primarily meant for the service.

Do eulogies vary in length?

Yes, eulogies can vary in length, often depending on the speaker and the context.

Can an epitaph be poetic?

Yes, epitaphs are often poetic or reflective.

What is the tone of a eulogy?

The tone of a eulogy can vary but is often personal and heartfelt.

Do eulogies include anecdotes?

Yes, eulogies often include personal anecdotes and stories.

Do epitaphs vary in length?

Epitaphs are generally brief due to space limitations.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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