hagiography

noun
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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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

And the baldfaced emotionality of Mr. Bell’s otherwise sophisticated score often abandons a human scale for something more like hagiography. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "Review: A ‘Stonewall’ Opera Reflects the Diversity of Queer History," 23 June 2019 The book is an unapologetic tribute to Churchill but not a hagiography. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "‘Churchill: Walking With Destiny’ Review: A Life at Full Pelt," 16 Nov. 2018 But more mature, sober-minded viewers may feel besieged by its non-stop hagiography. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Trolley': Film Review | Hot Docs 2018," 14 May 2018 There are dozens of books on Lee in English and Chinese, many of them hagiographies by family members. Jeff Baker, The Seattle Times, "‘Bruce Lee: A Life’: a remarkable life, from Seattle to Hong Kong," 26 June 2018 But for those who resist the temptation to put the book down there, what follows is not the hagiography the opening lines suggest. Peter Baker, New York Times, "Was Jimmy Carter the Most Underrated President in History?," 5 June 2018 While Schenkkan's script is basically true to history, the playwright does slide toward hagiography and ennobles Johnson beyond the evidence. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, "'All the Way' a brilliant political drama from Southern Rep," 29 May 2018 Her vivid biography is neither a hagiography nor a hatchet job, but a frank and nuanced assessment of a complicated woman. Wendy Smith, BostonGlobe.com, "The formidable Kennedy sister," 20 Apr. 2018 This is a generous biography but not a hagiography. Bertrand M. Patenaude, WSJ, "‘The Kremlinologist’ Review: A Starring Role Behind the Scenes," 4 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for hagiography

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for hagiography

The first known use of hagiography was in 1821

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More Definitions for hagiography

hagiography

noun

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on hagiography

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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