golem

noun

go·​lem ˈgō-ləm How to pronounce golem (audio) ˈgȯi- How to pronounce golem (audio)
ˈgā-
1
: an artificial human being in Hebrew folklore endowed with life
2
: something or someone resembling a golem: such as
a
b

Did you know?

The Evolution of Golem

The Hebrew ancestor of the word golem means “shapeless mass,” and the original mythical golems started as lumps of clay that were formed into figures and brought to life by means of a charm or a combination of letters forming a sacred word. In the Middle Ages, golems were thought to be the perfect servants; their only fault was that they were sometimes too literal or mechanical in fulfilling their masters’ orders. In the 16th century, the golem was thought of as a protector of the Jews in times of persecution. But following its entrance into English, golem acquired a less friendly second sense, referring to a man-made monster that inspired many of the back-from-the-dead creations of classic horror fiction. These days, the word golem is frequently used in the gaming world for a variety of foes and beasties made of materials ranging from ice to iron to even, in one game, candy.

Examples of golem in a Sentence

the supervisor was a golem who never had an unprogrammed thought in her life
Recent Examples on the Web The result is a spooky visage of some sort of golem staring out of the planet's surface. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 31 Oct. 2023 Although the original fable sees the golem run amok, the idea of the creature endures as an empowering fantasy in a time of rising anti-Semitism. Katherine Alejandra Cross, WIRED, 7 Sep. 2023 The rabbi created one such golem for himself to perform tiresome household chores: chopping wood, carrying water, sweeping the floor. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 11 July 2023 So denied, the golem went berserk, tearing down houses, throwing rocks, and wreaking havoc in the street. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 11 July 2023 The most famous golem is the one allegedly made by the 16th century Rabbi Judah Low ben Bezulel of Prague to protect the Jewish people from antisemitic attacks. Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 2023 Otherwise there will be more golems released into the world that will reflect back to us, in language, the worst parts of ourselves. IEEE Spectrum, 15 Mar. 2023 Specifically, the legend of the golem of Prague. Roy Schwartz, CNN, 21 Dec. 2021 The golem also served as an inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Yiddish goylem, from Hebrew gōlem shapeless mass

First Known Use

1897, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of golem was in 1897

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near golem

Cite this Entry

“Golem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/golem. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on golem

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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