exegesis

noun
ex·​e·​ge·​sis | \ ˌek-sə-ˈjē-səs How to pronounce exegesis (audio) , ˈek-sə-ˌjē- \
plural exegeses\ ˌek-​sə-​ˈjē-​(ˌ)sēz How to pronounce exegeses (audio) , ˈek-​sə-​ˌjē-​ \

Definition of exegesis

: exposition, explanation … politicians accustomed to speaking in 20-second sound bites suddenly began regaling (empty) galleries with windy, tendentious exegeses of the Founding Fathers' thoughts on the role of the Senate in confirming judges.— Jacob Weisberg especially : an explanation or critical interpretation of a text As an exegesis, though, it's nicely done, and Kennedy traces Sontag's main themes deftly along tortuous paths through both essays and fiction. — Larissa MacFarquhar

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Did You Know?

Theological scholars have long been preoccupied with interpreting the meanings of various passages in the Bible. In fact, because of the sacred status of the Bible in both Judaism and Christianity, biblical interpretation has played a crucial role in both of those religions throughout their histories. English speakers have used the word exegesis - a descendant of the Greek term exegeisthai, meaning "to explain" or "to interpret" - to refer to explanations of Scripture since the early 17th century. Nowadays, however, academic writers interpret all sorts of texts, and "exegesis" is no longer associated mainly with the Bible.

Examples of exegesis in a Sentence

a psychobiography that purports to be the definitive exegesis of the late president's character
Recent Examples on the Web Boyhood memories of staring at a bee exit onto a few words about the Instagram page of Omar Sharif Jr.; an exegesis on Austrian painter Egon Schiele’s wife wanders off into Koestenbaum’s first colonoscopy. Mina Tavakoli, Washington Post, "In the loopily expansive ‘Figure It Out,’ Wayne Koestenbaum ponders everything from Robert Rauschenberg’s shoes to the notion of the line," 11 May 2020 Some political-theological exegesis would be required to unspool the nature of the accomplishment. Thomas Meaneeey, Harper's Magazine, "Trumpism After Trump," 30 Mar. 2020 Some political-theological exegesis would be required to unspool the nature of the accomplishment. Thomas Meaneeey, Harper's Magazine, "Trumpism After Trump," 30 Mar. 2020 Rabbis have always loved acronyms, and collectively these four main types of exegesis are known as פרדס, Pardes. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "To Dream of a Jewish President," 13 Feb. 2020 Some political-theological exegesis would be required to unspool the nature of the accomplishment. Thomas Meaneeey, Harper's Magazine, "Trumpism After Trump," 30 Mar. 2020 Instead of wading into the legal minefield of anti-discrimination law and attendant religious exemptions — that would be complicated! — the hearing was an exercise in low-grade biblical exegesis. John Hirschauer, National Review, "In Congress, an Assault on Religious Liberty, in the Name of LGBT Rights," 5 Mar. 2020 Some political-theological exegesis would be required to unspool the nature of the accomplishment. Thomas Meaneeey, Harper's Magazine, "Trumpism After Trump," 30 Mar. 2020 The Russians soon became for progressives the exegesis of why Hillary lost, rather than her anemic campaign or near-toxic persona. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "A Russian Under Every Bed," 17 Dec. 2019

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

1627, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for exegesis

New Latin, from Greek exēgēsis, from exēgeisthai to explain, interpret, from ex- + hēgeisthai to lead — more at seek

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The first known use of exegesis was in 1627

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Cite this Entry

“Exegesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exegesis. Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on exegesis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for exegesis

Britannica English: Translation of exegesis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about exegesis

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