her·​met·​ic | \(ˌ)hər-ˈme-tik \
variants: or less commonly hermetical \(ˌ)hər-​ˈme-​ti-​kəl \

Definition of hermetic 

1 often capitalized

a : of or relating to the mystical and alchemical writings or teachings arising in the first three centuries a.d. and attributed to Hermes Trismegistus

b : relating to or characterized by subjects that are mysterious and difficult to understand : relating to or characterized by occultism or abstruseness : recondite a hermetic discussion

2 [ from the belief that Hermes Trismegistus invented a magic seal to keep vessels airtight ]

a : airtight hermetic seal

b : impervious to external influence trapped inside the hermetic military machine— Jack Newfield

c : recluse, solitary leads a hermetic life

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Other Words from hermetic

hermetically \(ˌ)hər-​ˈme-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for hermetic


abstruse, arcane, deep, esoteric, profound, recondite


shallow, superficial

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Hermetic Has Origins in Greek Mythology

Hermetic derives from Greek via the Medieval Latin word hermeticus. When it first entered English in the early 17th century, hermetic was associated with writings attributed to Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom. Thoth, whom the Greeks called Hermes Trismegistus ("thrice-great Hermes"), was believed to be the author of a number of mystical, philosophical, and alchemistic works. The obscure subject matter of these works may have made them difficult to wade through, for soon English speakers were also applying hermetic to things that were beyond ordinary human comprehension. Additionally, Hermes Trismegistus was said to have invented a magic seal that could keep vessels airtight. Hermetic thus came to mean "airtight," both literally and figuratively. These days, it can also sometimes mean "solitary."

Examples of hermetic in a Sentence

wrote hermetic poetry whose sole intended readership was himself

Recent Examples on the Web

My novel, which had begun as a slim tale of a girl who falls in love with two brothers, was carcinogenically spiraling into 1,000 pages of hermetic babble. Fernanda Eberstadt, Vogue, "Wild, Free, and Utterly Lost—Writer Fernanda Eberstadt on the Panic and Pitfalls of Post-Collegiate Life," 30 July 2018 But, of course, no one, no matter how rich or hermetic, is truly safe. Meryl Gordon, Town & Country, "The Curious Life and Shocking Death of Huguette Clark," 21 May 2014 Instead, her life was reduced to a hermetic state of trying to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal, floating among apartments in New York, Berlin and Paris. New York Times, "Nan Goldin Survived an Overdose to Fight the Opioid Epidemic," 11 June 2018 That’s striking, especially since almost no one from the famously hermetic country actually visits the United States. Alex Ward, Vox, "Awkward: the upheld travel ban still applies to North Korea, too," 26 June 2018 The result, which opens today and is on view through October 7, is sober, austere, and almost hermetic from a distance. Giovanna Dunmall, Curbed, "Inside the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion 2018 designed by Frida Escobedo," 15 June 2018 Scene after scene bears the hermetic rigor of a rite, one that outsiders—or even other members of the household—may struggle to understand. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Hereditary” Delivers a New Kind of Horror," 7 June 2018 And this is one of the main achievements of the book: to unravel Tony's sometimes hermetic personality. Jorge Ebro, miamiherald, "This is why this book about Tony Perez is a must-read for fans, lovers of Cuban history | Miami Herald," 18 May 2018 Here, via the character whose chief flaw was her failure to be Rachel, was the brute cosmology of the TV sitcom laid bare: These shows, by hermetic design, tend to mistrust outsiders and to fetishize the familiar. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Sympathy for the Charlie," 26 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hermetic.' 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 hermetic

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hermetic

Medieval Latin hermeticus, from Hermet-, Hermes Trismegistus

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

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The first known use of hermetic was in 1605

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More Definitions for hermetic



English Language Learners Definition of hermetic

: closed tightly so that no air can go in or out


her·​met·​ic | \(ˌ)hər-ˈmet-ik \

Medical Definition of hermetic 

: being airtight or impervious to air

Other Words from hermetic

hermetically \-​i-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on hermetic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hermetic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hermetic

Spanish Central: Translation of hermetic

Nglish: Translation of hermetic for Spanish Speakers

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