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 agencies under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security, of which CBP is one, have suffered from radio problems in the past. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Feces from a giant kettle of vultures is disrupting CBP communications on the US-Mexico border," 10 Jan. 2020 The 1970s saw huge new industrial projects in the region carried out under the aegis of the communist youth league. The Economist, "Siberia is an empty land filled with contradictions," 21 Dec. 2019 Under the aegis of the All India Muslim personal law board (AIMPLB), BMAC built up a community movement against the temple agitation spearheaded by right-wing Hindu organisations, pursuing the legal battle. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "VHP, Modi, Narasimha Rao’s roles in Ayodhya land title case," 9 Nov. 2019 The show falls under the aegis of mega-producer Greg Berlanti, whose deft touch overseeing the DC-CW-Warner Bros. portfolio has been impressive in its scope, and notable for its ambitious, tender-loving approach to the material. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Batwoman' and 'Nancy Drew' strike familiar notes on CW," 4 Oct. 2019 Taylor performed with the Marin Shakespeare Company and wrote a one-act autobiographical play under its aegis. New York Times, "Running to Put San Quentin Behind Him," 8 Aug. 2019 However chaotic the current situation, at least Albania’s courts, under the aegis of the European Commission, are being cleaned up a bit. The Economist, "Albania is a mess," 28 June 2019 The keynote was a sort of inside-out narcissism: artists’ self-absorption as a publicly engulfing phenomenon, under the godlike aegis of Harald Szeemann. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Harald Szeemann’s Revolutionary Curating," 15 July 2019 Under the aegis of Premise, and paid for from America’s foreign-aid budget, the Zika Citizen Network has recruited and deployed 10,000 people in three cities: Cali, Cúcuta and Santa Marta. The Economist, "Armed with smartphones, Colombians are taking on the local mozzies," 4 July 2019

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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Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aegis.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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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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showing steady, earnest care and effort

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