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.

Example Sentences

a psychobiography that purports to be the definitive exegesis of the late president's character
Recent Examples on the Web In such a widening gyre, Mounk’s calm mix of storytelling, political theory and social psychology exegesis, peppered with some charming insights, has a comforting seriousness. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 In contrast to the letters, Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, some 3,000 pages of notes, are more sustained bursts of political reflection, the disentanglement and exegesis of which is today a major scholarly industry. Thomas Meaney, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2022 There is an exegesis on brainwashing and transcriptions of psychotherapy sessions; there are echoes and doublings. David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times, 14 Jan. 2022 Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and even Mark Zuckerberg have their own fan clubs, but there are no equivalents to Thielian exegesis; few people seem to bother speculating on the intellectual roots of Mark Zuckerberg’s business philosophy. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2021 Each individual essay in this collection is complex, requiring an exegesis beyond what the scope of a single book review can handle, but certain moments stand out to me as impossible not to highlight. Jennifer Wilson, The New Republic, 22 Sep. 2021 Patristic exegesis comprises all the more or less allegorical methods by which St. Augustine and other church fathers interpreted the Bible. Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2021 With all respect to any rabid Fall fan, Smith’s voice really does demand a little exegesis. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 Such a body of writing more closely resembles Talmudic exegesis than literary criticism. Alex Traub, New York Times, 8 June 2021 See More

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.

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 8 Dec. 2022.

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