heno·​the·​ism ˈhe-nə-(ˌ)thē-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce henotheism (audio)
: the worship of one god without denying the existence of other gods
henotheist noun
henotheistic adjective

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Henotheism comes to us from the German word Henotheismus, which in turn is derived from Greek hen- ("one") and "theos" ("god"). Someone who engages in henotheism worships one god but does not deny that there are others. Max Müller, a respected 19th-century scholar, is credited with promoting the word henotheism as a counterpart to "polytheism" ("belief in or worship of more than one god") and "monotheism" ("the doctrine or belief that there is but one God"). Müller also used the related word kathenotheism, from Greek kath' hena ("one at a time"), for the worship of several gods successively.

Examples of henotheism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And while there were plenty of henotheist pagans (that is, people who worshiped one god while not denying the validity of others), Christianity went far beyond henotheism’s hesitant claim upon ultimate truth. Tom Bissell, New York Times, 13 Feb. 2018

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

Word History


German Henotheismus, from Greek hen-, heis one + theos god — more at same

First Known Use

1860, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of henotheism was in 1860


Dictionary Entries Near henotheism

Cite this Entry

“Henotheism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/henotheism. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

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