1 of 2

adjective (1)

Ap·​ol·​lo·​ni·​an ˌa-pə-ˈlō-nē-ən How to pronounce Apollonian (audio)
: of, relating to, or resembling the god Apollo
: harmonious, measured, ordered, or balanced in character compare dionysian


2 of 2

adjective (2)

: of, relating to, or characteristic of the Greek poet Apollonius or his writings

Did you know?

To the ancient Greeks, Apollo represented the perfection of youthful manhood. He was the god of music, poetry, archery, prophecy, and healing, among other things. English speakers began using the adjective Apollonian for someone who resembled Apollo in physical beauty or talent as long ago as 1663. Due partly to the work of Nietzsche and other German scholars, we now associate Apollo with the forces of calm rationality (as opposed to the Dionysian forces, which are instinctive, frenzied, and uninhibited). Despite these associations, Apollo himself was not always a force of reason-he had a terrible temper and a lust for young girls as well.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective (1)

1663, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective (2)

1664, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Apollonian was in 1663


Dictionary Entries Near Apollonian

Cite this Entry

“Apollonian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Apollonian. Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on Apollonian

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!