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 division of the Hebrew Bible. Our English word 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 The Herman revue has a continuity problem too, but its gaps are filled with hagiography. New York Times, 3 Feb. 2021 Agrelo steers clear of the straight-up hagiography that plagues so many docs framed as tributes to their subjects. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 22 Apr. 2021 By beating the rest of the Hussle hagiography, the stories add to collective memory without seeming redundant. Jeff Weiss, Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2021 Your ability to get people to speak to you nudged biography away from hagiography. Matt Tyrnauer, Town & Country, 25 Feb. 2021 But some critics accused Mr. Rose of hagiography and historical revisionism, turning murderers into heroes. Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, 6 Dec. 2020 The trouble with chronicling genius is that, if not careful, the process can quickly veer into hagiography. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 26 Oct. 2020 Malcolm X’s difficult legacy—the fact that his rhetoric could radicalize Black communities even as the Nation of Islam fractured some families—was rarely acknowledged at the height of Malcolm X hagiography, during the 1990s. Kerri Greenidge, The Atlantic, 15 Oct. 2020 At first, the shirt seemed like yet another piece of Girlboss merchandise, an attempt at hagiography that flattened women into symbols. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of hagiography

1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hagiography

see hagiographa

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Time Traveler for hagiography

Time Traveler

The first known use of hagiography was in 1821

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Statistics for hagiography

Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hagiography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hagiography. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for hagiography



English Language Learners Definition of hagiography

disapproving : a book about someone's life that makes it seem better than it really is or was : a biography that praises someone too much

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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