Ae·​so·​pi·​an | \ ē-ˈsō-pē-ən How to pronounce Aesopian (audio) , -ˈsä- How to pronounce Aesopian (audio) \
variants: or less commonly Aesopic \ ē-​ˈsä-​pik How to pronounce Aesopian (audio) \

Definition of Aesopian

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of Aesop or his fables
2 : conveying an innocent meaning to an outsider but a hidden meaning to a member of a conspiracy or underground movement Aesopian language

Did You Know?

Aesop’s fables are well-known. On the surface, they are entertaining stories, featuring animals who speak and act like humans. But they also have an underlying purpose, which is to teach a moral lesson. In the 20th century, Aesopian - which had previously meant simply "characteristic of Aesop or his fables" - took on an extended meaning. "Aesopian language" referred to the cryptic or ambiguous language authors used in subversive material, often to avoid censorship. This use originated in Russia with ezopovski, the Russian version of the term. Today, Aesopian occasionally means "having hidden meaning" without any implications of subversive political meaning or avoidance of censorship.

First Known Use of Aesopian

1728, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for Aesopian

Aesopian, from Latin Aesōpīus (borrowed from Greek Aisṓpeios "of Aesop, legendary Greek fabulist," derivative of Aísōpos, Aesop) + -an entry 2; Aesopic borrowed from Late Latin Aesōpicus, borrowed from Greek Aisōpikós, from Aísōpos, Aesop + -ikos -ic entry 1

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Cite this Entry

“Aesopian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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