ae·​gis | \ ˈē-jəs How to pronounce aegis (audio) also ˈā- How to pronounce aegis (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of aegis

1 : a shield or breastplate emblematic of majesty that was associated with Zeus and Athena
2a : protection under the aegis of the Constitution
b : controlling or conditioning (see condition entry 2 sense 5a) influence passed new laws under the aegis of national security
3a : auspices, sponsorship under the aegis of the museum
b : control or guidance especially by an individual, group, or system under the aegis of the government

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Aegis Has Greek and Latin Roots

We borrowed "aegis" from Latin, but the word ultimately derives from the Greek noun aigis, which means "goatskin." In ancient Greek mythology, an aegis was something that offered physical protection. In some stories, it was the thundercloud where Zeus kept the thunderbolts he used as weapons. In others, the aegis was a magical protective cloak made from the skin of the goat that had suckled Zeus as an infant. The word first entered English in the 15th century as a noun meaning "shield" or "protection," and by the 20th century it had acquired the extended senses of "auspices" or "sponsorship."

Examples of aegis in a Sentence

having no claim to the land under the aegis of the law, the cattle baron decided to claim it by force a medical study that was questioned by many because it was done under the aegis of a major pharmaceutical company

Recent Examples on the Web

However chaotic the current situation, at least Albania’s courts, under the aegis of the European Commission, are being cleaned up a bit. The Economist, "Albania is a mess," 28 June 2019 The keynote was a sort of inside-out narcissism: artists’ self-absorption as a publicly engulfing phenomenon, under the godlike aegis of Harald Szeemann. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Harald Szeemann’s Revolutionary Curating," 15 July 2019 Under the aegis of Premise, and paid for from America’s foreign-aid budget, the Zika Citizen Network has recruited and deployed 10,000 people in three cities: Cali, Cúcuta and Santa Marta. The Economist, "Armed with smartphones, Colombians are taking on the local mozzies," 4 July 2019 Of course, the president either forgot about or was not aware of the Voice of America and other broadcasters that operate under the aegis of the US Agency for Global Media. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Talk amongst yourselves: 2018’s most-commented stories on Ars," 24 Dec. 2018 Commuter-rail projects are outside Byford’s ambit, but the M.T.A.’s ineptitude, or worse, on large projects saps the credibility of everyone working under its aegis. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, "Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?," 2 July 2018 DERs are hanging out down at the bottom edge of the grid, under the aegis of DSOs. David Roberts, Vox, "Clean energy technologies threaten to overwhelm the grid. Here’s how it can adapt.," 30 Nov. 2018 Charting a young rapper's rite of passage under the aegis of an old poet with a traumatic past, Respeto offers a gripping if sometimes slightly melodramatic look at the chaotic clash of values shaping the Philippines today. Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Respeto': Film Review," 11 July 2018 Meanwhile, there are major regional bus initiatives beyond Metro’s aegis — including the Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit in Fairfax County and plans to construct a Bus Rapid Transit corridor along U.S. Route 29 in Montgomery County. Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post, "With ridership falling, Metro will spend $2.2 million to study bus business model," 6 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aegis

borrowed from Latin, borrowed from Greek aigís "goatskin, mantle of Zeus," derivative of aig-, aíx "goat"; akin to Armenian aic "goat" (perhaps going back to Indo-European *h2eiǵ-ih2-), and perhaps to Avestan izaēna "of leather"

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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The first known use of aegis was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of aegis

formal : the power to protect, control, or support something or someone

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More from Merriam-Webster on aegis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aegis

Britannica English: Translation of aegis for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about aegis

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