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

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

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 Others criticized him as selfish, wondering where his then-wife and children were in the hagiography. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: 'The Last Dance' showed Michael Jordan to be both otherworldly and deeply human," 18 May 2020 The early hagiographies, the images etched into those cathedrals, still hold lessons for us today. Matthew Gabriele, Time, "Christian Groups That Resist Public-Health Guidelines Are Forgetting a Key Part of the Religion's History," 20 Apr. 2020 Trump’s perceived glories or evils drove sales of exposés, hagiographies and memoirs, almost all designed to confirm rather than inform or challenge one’s fealty. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "11 trends that changed the way we read this decade," 24 Dec. 2019 Catholic hagiography says that a sample of Januarius’s blood was supposedly preserved by a woman named Eusebia, who gave it to the local church authorities for safekeeping. Michael Hardy, Wired, "In Naples, Faith Substitutes for What Science Can’t Foresee," 28 Feb. 2020 When a revered man dies, the lines between hagiography and history are blurred. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Fans will pack Staples Center Monday to honor Kobe Bryant and his daughter," 23 Feb. 2020 Such an attack was a specialty of FDR’s, despite the all the hagiographies written about his imperial presidency. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Presidential Misconduct: Some Historical Perspective," 5 Dec. 2019 The official history of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix, a hardbound volume with lavish pictures, is clearly intended as a hagiography, with gushing portraits of guides ancient and modern. Simon Akam, Outside Online, "You Won’t Pass Chamonix’s Mountain Guiding Test," 27 Nov. 2019 The director is closely connected to Nazarbayev and a few years ago shot a hagiography about him, Way of the Leader. Nick Holdsworth, The Hollywood Reporter, "Oscars: Kazakhstan Selects 'Golden Throne' for Best International Feature Category," 1 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of hagiography

1821, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hagiography

see hagiographa

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hagiography

Time Traveler for hagiography

Time Traveler

The first known use of hagiography was in 1821

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about hagiography

Statistics for hagiography

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hagiography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hagiography. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hagiography


How to pronounce hagiography (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hagiography

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hagiography

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hagiography

Britannica English: Translation of hagiography for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hagiography

Comments on hagiography

What made you want to look up hagiography? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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