apo·​the·​o·​sis | \ ə-ˌpä-thē-ˈō-səs How to pronounce apotheosis (audio) , ˌa-pə-ˈthē-ə-səs How to pronounce apotheosis (audio) \
plural apotheoses\ ə-​ˌpä-​thē-​ˈō-​ˌsēz How to pronounce apotheosis (audio) , ˌa-​pə-​ˈthē-​ə-​ˌsēz \

Definition of apotheosis

1a : the perfect form or example of something : quintessence the apotheosis of Hollywood glamour … Nelson Rockefeller, the other top contender and the apotheosis of liberal Republicanism.— Sam Tanenhaus
b : the highest or best part of something : peak The city reaches its apotheosis at the holiday …— David Leavin
2 : elevation to divine status : deification the apotheosis of Roman emperors

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Other Words from apotheosis

apotheosize \ ˌa-​pə-​ˈthē-​ə-​ˌsīz How to pronounce apotheosis (audio) , ə-​ˈpä-​thē-​ə-​ \ transitive verb

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Among the ancient Greeks, it was sometimes thought fitting - or simply handy, say if you wanted a god somewhere in your bloodline - to grant someone or other god status. So they created the word apotheosis, meaning "making into a god." (The prefix apo- can mean simply "quite" or "completely," and "theos" is the Greek word for "god.") There's not a lot of Greek-style apotheosizing in the 21st century, but there is hero-worship. Our extended use of "apotheosis" as "elevation to divine status" is the equivalent of "placement on a very high pedestal." Even more common these days is to use "apotheosis" in reference to a perfect example or ultimate form. For example, one might describe a movie as "the apotheosis of the sci-fi movie genre."

Examples of apotheosis in a Sentence

the apotheosis of the picaresque novel
Recent Examples on the Web Yet for that moment, Smith and Lasseter’s creation was the apotheosis of all the calculations, fractals, algorithms, and alpha channels. Steven Levy, Wired, 31 Aug. 2021 To feel all four tires leave the ground as one’s turbocharged chariot hurtles over the canyon in a Blu-ray apotheosis of brainless splendor. Garret Keizer, Harper's Magazine, 17 Aug. 2021 The quest for a personal cinema—for making films that reflect the first-person voice of a novel or an essay along with the gestural immediacy of a painting or a drawing—finds its apotheosis in directors turning the camera onto themselves. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 9 June 2021 And the apotheosis of Biggie and Tupac — only six and seven years dead — left virtually all remaining aspirants vying for third place. New York Times, 9 Aug. 2021 Some people saw the film as Malick's magnum opus, the dreamy naturalist carrying the explorations of his earlier work to a personal-biblical apotheosis. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, 27 May 2021 The tradition—which perhaps reached an apotheosis when Pan’s Labyrinth received 22 minutes of applause in 2006—has at times attracted mockery. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 17 July 2021 Another one has come to play on the court that turns him into an apotheosis of his sport, and to protect this place as his personal kingdom. New York Times, 30 May 2021 The quirkiness of the internet and web’s design was the apotheosis of ensuring that the perfect would not be the enemy of the good. Jonathan Zittrain, The Atlantic, 30 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apotheosis.' 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 apotheosis

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for apotheosis

borrowed from Late Latin apotheōsis "transformation into a god, deification," borrowed from Greek apothéōsis, from apotheō-, variant stem of apotheóō, apotheoûn "to transform into a god, deify" (from apo- apo- + theoûn "to make a god of," verbal derivative of theós "god") + -sis -sis — more at theo-

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Time Traveler for apotheosis

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The first known use of apotheosis was circa 1580

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Last Updated

10 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apotheosis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apotheosis. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for apotheosis



English Language Learners Definition of apotheosis

: the perfect form or example of something
: the highest or best part of something

More from Merriam-Webster on apotheosis

Britannica English: Translation of apotheosis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about apotheosis


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