ha·​gi·​og·​ra·​phy | \ ˌha-gē-ˈä-grə-fē How to pronounce hagiography (audio) , ˌhā-, -jē- \

Definition of hagiography

1 : biography of saints or venerated persons
2 : idealizing or idolizing biography an account that smacks of hagiography

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Like biography and autograph, the word hagiography has to do with the written word. The combining form -graphy comes from Greek graphein, meaning "to write." Hagio- comes from a Greek word that means "saintly" or "holy." This origin is seen in Hagiographa, the Greek designation of the Ketuvim, the third part of the Jewish Scriptures. English's hagiography, though it can refer to biography of actual saints, is these days more often applied to biography that treats ordinary human subjects as if they were saints.

Examples of hagiography in a Sentence

a hagiography about a famous politician The book gives a good idea of his virtues without resorting to hagiography.
Recent Examples on the Web Substantial improvement over the hagiography of the only other two general meetings held in the last 35 years. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Sep. 2022 But expect any characteristic complexities and imperfections to be eclipsed by the halo the director casts around Douglass, the result being more hagiography than biography. Vahaken Mouradian, National Review, 4 Sep. 2022 The influence of hagiography—which today colloquially refers to an exaggerated celebration rather than a straightforward recounting—remains clear, especially when there’s less space to get into each individual’s unflattering traits. Talya Zax, The Atlantic, 26 June 2022 Some Biden loyalists are even veering toward hagiography. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2022 Egerton does an astonishing job of making Jimmy feel like something resembling a person beyond the hagiography. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 July 2022 Left unsaid in the company’s hagiography: Liberty Mutual has developed a ubiquitous advertising presence, most notably with the ‘70s-style cop show odd-duck pairing of LiMu the emu and human counterpart Doug. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 9 June 2022 The sisters’ show can sometimes feel like hagiography; there is little discussion of Basquiat’s demons or the aspects of his home life that may have been difficult. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2022 The irresistible result: an often irreverent yet compassionate approach to the poet that cuts through the hagiography. Elizabeth Lowry, WSJ, 25 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hagiography.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hagiography

1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hagiography

see hagiographa

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The first known use of hagiography was in 1821

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hagiography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hagiography. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on hagiography

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hagiography

Britannica English: Translation of hagiography for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hagiography


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