ed·​i·​fy ˈe-də-ˌfī How to pronounce edify (audio)
edified; edifying

transitive verb

: to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge : uplift
also : enlighten, inform
: build

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Edify Has Latin Roots

Edify comes from the Latin verb aedificare, meaning "to instruct or improve spiritually"; it is based on aedes, the word for "temple." Edify shares the spiritual meaning of its Latin root, but it is also used in general contexts to refer to the act of instructing in a way that improves the mind or character overall.

Examples of edify in a Sentence

These books will both entertain and edify readers. a family-oriented show that tried to edify the television audience as well as entertain it
Recent Examples on the Web But hang in there: Viewers who allow themselves to be taken on this wide-ranging, occasionally digressive journey will emerge not just edified but emotionally wrung out and, somehow, cleansed. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2024 If a reporter were to crop a photo that was previously edified using Photoshop, for example, both of those changes to the images would be noted in the final manifest. Popular Science, 8 Feb. 2024 General readers will be more edified by the story of the expedition itself, which the author describes in detail. Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 Dec. 2023 In this dense, deeply researched, and edifying volume, Medani takes on the vexed question of how Islamist political movements use informal financial networks in recruiting and sustaining their members. Khalid Mustafa Medani, Foreign Affairs, 1 Nov. 2022 This fascinating four-part documentary series, directed by Dawn Porter, traces the occasionally edifying, sometimes exasperating history of the Supreme Court. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, 21 Sep. 2023 This edifying study focuses on the Libyan, Syrian, and Yemeni communities in the United Kingdom and the United States before and during the 2011 uprisings in their countries of origin. Lisa Anderson, Foreign Affairs, 20 Dec. 2022 Teachers, politicians, literary critics and other vested authorities labor mightily to separate the edifying wheat from the distracting chaff, to control, police, correct and corral the transgressive energies that propel the turning of pages. A.o. Scott, New York Times, 21 June 2023 At once edifying and entertaining, Miller’s book traces the history of the global semiconductor industry. Chris Miller, Foreign Affairs, 28 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'edify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French edifier, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin aedificare to instruct or improve spiritually, from Latin, to erect a house, from aedes temple, house; akin to Old English ād funeral pyre, Latin aestas summer

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of edify was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near edify

Cite this Entry

“Edify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/edify. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ed·​i·​fy ˈed-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce edify (audio)
edified; edifying
: to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge
an edifying sermon

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