ex·​e·​ge·​sis ˌek-sə-ˈjē-səs How to pronounce exegesis (audio)
plural exegeses ˌek-sə-ˈjē-(ˌ)sēz How to pronounce exegesis (audio)
: 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

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 exēgeisthai, 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 The work is already its own exegesis and its own self-interrogation. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 25 Jan. 2024 Still, our Judaism—if that’s the word for it—affirmed idiosyncrasy, worldliness, dignity, science, exegesis, law, property, gradualism, poetic license, peace, freedom, memory, and humor. Jordan Castro, Harper's Magazine, 9 Jan. 2024 And at the center was Page, providing the breathtakingly clinical exegesis of a shattered man who put vanity before devotion. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 4 Dec. 2023 Artists and Goddesses At Schiaparelli, for example, Daniel Roseberry provided an exegesis on the virtue of dialogue: between art and fashion, past and present. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 4 July 2023 The Talmudic exegesis from the likes of directors John Waters, Karyn Kusama and David Lowery, although often enlightening, begins to feel diminished as the scholarly jargon and speculations pile up. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 13 June 2023 Ascher previously directed the doc Room 237, a pinhead exegesis of Kubrick’s The Shining, which typifies how few critics or film professionals appreciate what surrealism is or its wit. Armond White, National Review, 7 June 2023 There are cocktail bars today that seem almost church-like — hallowed spaces where the faithful come to taste and engage in acts of exegesis, analyzing every nuance and extolling how spirit and bitters come together in the glass. M. Carrie Allan, Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2023 That lacuna affects Mr Joustra’s exegesis. The Economist, 7 Oct. 2020

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1627, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of exegesis was in 1627


Dictionary Entries Near exegesis

Cite this Entry

“Exegesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exegesis. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on exegesis

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!