plural apotheoses ə-ˌpä-thē-ˈō-ˌsēz How to pronounce apotheosis (audio)
: 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
: the highest or best part of something : peak
The city reaches its apotheosis at the holiday … David Leavin
: elevation to divine status : deification
the apotheosis of Roman emperors
ˌa-pə-ˈthē-ə-ˌsīz How to pronounce apotheosis (audio)
transitive verb

Did you know?

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 apotheōsis, from the verb apotheoun, meaning "to deify." (The prefix apo- can mean "off," "from," or "away," 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."

Example Sentences

the apotheosis of the picaresque novel
Recent Examples on the Web This weekend’s 90th birthday concert was an apotheosis. W. Anthony Sheppard, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Aug. 2022 The apotheosis of that design philosophy came in KOF 2002 Unlimited Match, with secret final boss Omega Rugal. K. Thor Jensen, PCMAG, 6 Oct. 2022 Like the Beatles' playful apotheosis Revolver (released the same year), Godard's Masculin Féminin feels like the beginning of a new era: a drifting, electrifying ode to pop lifestyles. Joshua Rothkopf, EW.com, 14 Sep. 2022 My pregnant state, grafted onto these men, is pitched as the apotheosis of grotesque social commentary, a sight meant to be so bizarre, disturbing and deep that it is preserved for the crowning spectacle of a horror film. New York Times, 5 Aug. 2022 It's often hailed as the apotheosis of American racial progress. Benjy Sarlin, NBC News, 5 Aug. 2022 The long and tumultuous campaign for Indian independence, perhaps the most dramatic success of the anti-colonial movement, was itself turbocharged by apotheosis—unwanted, in this case, but not, in the final accounting, unhelpful. Ian Beacock, The New Republic, 6 Dec. 2021 Periods of temperance, promoted by Susan B. Anthony, Walt Whitman, et al., and prohibition have alternated with the apotheosis of drinking and the drunk. Tamar Adler, Vogue, 18 Aug. 2022 And now, a generation after that, the apotheosis: Marvel comics have become Penguin Classics. Jeremy Dauber, The Atlantic, 27 July 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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-

First Known Use

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of apotheosis was circa 1580


Dictionary Entries Near apotheosis

Cite this Entry

“Apotheosis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apotheosis. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

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