The epitome of misusing the word epitome.

An angry boss tells you that you’re the epitome of stupid. Sure it stings. But it’s not the zinger he meant it to be.

Why? Because “epitome” doesn’t mean what most people think it does. They think it means an extreme of something. As in:

“That new pizza with cheeseburgers in the crust is the epitome of unhealthy food.”

“Mark Zuckerberg is the epitome of a rich bastard.”

“Jabba the Hut is the epitome of lazy.”

Great. Except none of these sentences is true.

An epitome means a typical example of something. Not the extreme.

Your do-nothing friend with the trust fund is the epitome of a rich bastard.

A Coney dog is the epitome of unhealthy food.

Your friend who never cuts his lawn is the epitome of lazy.

So when your boss called you the epitome of stupid, he wasn’t saying you were the ultimate idiot. Just a garden-variety dolt.

Does that soften the blow?