ae·​gis | \ ˈē-jəs How to pronounce aegis (audio) also ˈā- How to pronounce aegis (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of aegis

1 : a shield or breastplate emblematic of majesty that was associated with Zeus and Athena
2a : protection under the aegis of the Constitution
b : controlling or conditioning (see condition entry 2 sense 5a) influence passed new laws under the aegis of national security
3a : auspices, sponsorship under the aegis of the museum
b : control or guidance especially by an individual, group, or system under the aegis of the government

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Aegis Has Greek and Latin Roots

We borrowed "aegis" from Latin, but the word ultimately derives from the Greek noun aigis, which means "goatskin." In ancient Greek mythology, an aegis was something that offered physical protection. In some stories, it was the thundercloud where Zeus kept the thunderbolts he used as weapons. In others, the aegis was a magical protective cloak made from the skin of the goat that had suckled Zeus as an infant. The word first entered English in the 15th century as a noun meaning "shield" or "protection," and by the 20th century it had acquired the extended senses of "auspices" or "sponsorship."

Examples of aegis in a Sentence

having no claim to the land under the aegis of the law, the cattle baron decided to claim it by force a medical study that was questioned by many because it was done under the aegis of a major pharmaceutical company
Recent Examples on the Web The fact that Chileans voted to elect constituents who are not in Congress highlights an awkward dynamic: The constitutional project will unfold under the aegis of a government and Congress widely viewed as having failed their people. Star Tribune, "Eager for change, Chile faces long road to new constitution," 27 Oct. 2020 The task of fighting climate change falls to the members of the novel's titular Ministry, an organization created under the aegis of the Paris Agreement to keep Earth livable for present and future generations. Christian Holub,, "How new novel The Ministry for the Future lays a blueprint for fighting climate change," 14 Oct. 2020 When the Harbor Board, which owned the Baltimore, disbanded with the founding of the Maryland Port Authority in 1956, the old tug fell under its aegis. Frederick N. Rasmussen,, "The story behind Baltimore’s historic, city-owned tugboat that played many important roles in the city’s history," 10 Sep. 2020 Jean-Raymond’s own brand, Pyer Moss, will be included under the Your Friends in New York aegis, with the promise that his next fashion show will take place alongside a multiday series of events tied to the YFINY platform. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Kerby Jean-Raymond Teams With Kering to Launch Your Friends in New York," 10 Sep. 2020 Dickens’s aegis, for the consolation of the stricken and the shamed. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Charles Dickens at the Movies," 28 Aug. 2020 That has been the finding of another recent study published under the aegis of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which notes that the income gap seems to be the most important source of persistent black-white wealth inequality. Adolph Reed Jr., The New Republic, "The Surprising Cross-Racial Saga of Modern Wealth Inequality," 29 June 2020 The important question for any of these technological initiatives is thus not whether the data is gathered under the aegis of some centralized supervisory body but how, precisely, such a centralized system is implemented, and by whom. Gideon Lewis-kraus, Wired, "How to Make Government Trustworthy Again," 18 June 2020 The ban on non-essential travel to the EU has so far showcased voluntary coordination among member countries under the aegis of the commission, which formally has no decision-making power over the matter. Jonathan Stearns,, "Europe Prepares to Restart Travel With Rest of World in July," 15 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aegis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aegis

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aegis

borrowed from Latin, borrowed from Greek aigís "goatskin, mantle of Zeus," derivative of aig-, aíx "goat"; akin to Armenian aic "goat" (perhaps going back to Indo-European *h2eiǵ-ih2-), and perhaps to Avestan izaēna "of leather"

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The first known use of aegis was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Aegis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for aegis


How to pronounce aegis (audio) How to pronounce aegis (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of aegis

formal : the power to protect, control, or support something or someone

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More from Merriam-Webster on aegis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aegis

Britannica English: Translation of aegis for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about aegis

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