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

Definition of edify

transitive verb

1 : to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge : uplift also : enlighten, inform
2 archaic
a : build
b : establish

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 And in part because of this idea that had been upheld since the nineteenth century, that at least classical music’s purpose is to edify, right, unlike pop music, unlike hip-hop, or other things that are commercial that are for making money. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 17 Mar. 2022 Interview clips with siblings Tito and Rebbie and mother Katherine, along with celebrity reflections from Questlove, Whoopi Goldberg, Missy Elliott, Norman Lear and Debbie Allen, among others, occasionally edify. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 27 Jan. 2022 When crimes against the innocent are perpetuated by those spiritually entrusted to edify and protect the faithful, the damage is all the more devastating and its reverberation is wide and long. Father Edward Beck, CNN, 6 Oct. 2021 Music helps, of course, as do games—but nothing can entertain and edify quite like a good audiobook. Vogue, 12 July 2021 Yet Beard seems delighted to edify and even befriend her haters. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 16 May 2021 If handled properly, change can be a great opportunity to edify your team and give your managers the skills to become better leaders. Jane Sparrow, Forbes, 7 May 2021 Zimmer sprinkles his book with stories that both dazzle and edify the reader. New York Times, 24 Mar. 2021 Gossip helps edify listeners by determining what is and isn’t acceptable, and who has violated social conventions and decorum. Amy Collier, The New Yorker, 4 Dec. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of edify

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for edify

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

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

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Last Updated

9 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Edify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/edify. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on edify

Nglish: Translation of edify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of edify for Arabic Speakers


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