ad·​y·​tum ˈa-də-təm How to pronounce adytum (audio)
plural adyta ˈa-də-tə How to pronounce adytum (audio)
: the innermost sanctuary in an ancient temple open only to priests : sanctum

Word History


borrowed from Latin adytum, borrowed from Greek ádyton, neuter of ádytos "not to be entered," from a- a- entry 2 + -dytos, verbal adjective of dýein "to enter, make one's way into, sink," of uncertain origin

Note: Supposed kinship of the Greek verb with a Sanskrit gerundive upādútyaḥ "to be put on (of a belt)" is apparently groundless, as the Sanskrit word should properly be read as "to be burnt" and hence belongs with Sanskrit dunóti "(s/he) burns," Homeric Greek dédēe "blazes up" (see Karl Hoffmann, "Materialen zum altindischen Verbum," Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung, Band 79 [1965], pp. 177-81). The Greek verb is thus deprived of any secure Indo-European comparisons, with the possible exception of Armenian enerk "immersed (something)."

First Known Use

1611, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adytum was in 1611

Dictionary Entries Near adytum

Cite this Entry

“Adytum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

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