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

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Edify Has Latin Roots

The Latin noun aedes, meaning "house" or "temple," is the root of aedificare, a verb meaning "to erect a house." Generations of speakers built on that meaning, and by the Late Latin period, the verb had gained the figurative sense of "to instruct or improve spiritually." The word eventually passed through Anglo-French before Middle English speakers adopted it as edify during the 14th century. Two of its early meanings, "to build" and "to establish," are now considered archaic; the only current sense of edify is essentially the same as that figurative meaning in Late Latin, "to instruct and improve in moral and religious knowledge."

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

At a time when Britain is fighting rising Islamophobia, the outpouring of affection for an Egyptian-national superstar who is proud and public about his Muslim faith has been edifying. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "After Remarkable Rise, Mohamed Salah Shoulders Egypt's World Cup Hopes," 29 May 2018 Architecture to me is successful when the community is empowered by it, is edified by it, and is elevated by it. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Q&A with David Adjaye, designer of Smithsonian's African American museum," 13 May 2018 Take, as an edifying out-of-town example, the Atlantic Casino Hilton Hotel, built in 1985. Yvonne Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, "The Wynn mess, and the Mass. Gaming Commission’s big problem," 4 Apr. 2018 The problem is, the debate usually devolves into a facile back and forth that edifies no one. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Don't bother Doc. He's mock-drafting the 2018 NFL Draft. Pay attention, mobsters.," 21 Mar. 2018 And the thought of the administration’s settling for second best out of expediency, or vamping indefinitely until Maestro Right should miraculously appear, wasn’t edifying. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Muti re-ups at CSO through 2022, announces a 2018-19 season honoring Armistice centennial," 30 Jan. 2018 The past several weeks haven’t been particularly edifying for the health of American culture. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Our Dumbed-Down Culture," 13 Oct. 2017 Reality agreed to date her high-school boyfriend, Carlos, on certain conditions intended to improve and to edify. Kerry Howley, Daily Intelligencer, "‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread’," 22 Dec. 2017 The distillery tour was edifying, the country beautiful, the double-oaked bourbon like drinking an alcoholic waffle. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc's TML: The NFL is never as it seems," 9 Oct. 2017

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.

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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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Time Traveler for edify

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

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English Language Learners Definition of edify

: to teach (someone) in a way that improves the mind or character

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More from Merriam-Webster on edify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with edify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for edify

Spanish Central: Translation of edify

Nglish: Translation of edify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of edify for Arabic Speakers

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to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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