Mae·​ce·​nas mi-ˈsē-nəs How to pronounce Maecenas (audio)
: a generous patron especially of literature or art

Did you know?

Although the ancient Roman Gaius Maecenas was a well-known diplomat and counselor to Emperor Augustus, it was his munificent patronage of literature that immortalized his name as a word for "a generous patron." A writer himself, Maecenas knew of the power of poetry and viewed it as a way to glorify Augustus's regime. Among the poets he patronized were the celebrated Virgil and Horace - both of whom he befriended. Maecenas has also been credited with encouraging both writers to focus more on topics of public interest, such as affairs of state.

Examples of Maecenas in a Sentence

the opera company no longer has an array of moneyed Maecenases to which it can turn for financial support

Word History


Latin, from Gaius Maecenas †8 b.c. Roman statesman & patron of literature

First Known Use

1542, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Maecenas was in 1542


Dictionary Entries Near Maecenas

Cite this Entry

“Maecenas.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

Biographical Definition


biographical name

Mae·​ce·​nas mi-ˈsē-nəs How to pronounce Maecenas (audio)
Gaius circa 70–8 b.c. Roman statesman and patron of literature
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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