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

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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Synonyms & Antonyms for hermetic



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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 After the revelations of abuse and rape, the most frightening thing the Epstein connections show is the impregnable, hermetic way class and power work in America. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Jeffrey Epstein and the Power of Networks," 27 Aug. 2019 Part of it is that the chaos of air travel dictates a unique set of laws, which exist only within the hermetic seal of the terminal. Andrea Whittle, Condé Nast Traveler, "In the Battle of Hudson News Versus Willpower, Hudson News Always Wins," 19 July 2019 The third episode focuses more on Kat, whose relationship to the internet is legitimately complicated, evolving between hermetic terror and righteous exhibitionism. Darren Franich, EW.com, "HBO's teen shock-soap Euphoria is sweeter than you think: EW review," 14 June 2019 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 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 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 Her language became intensely hermetic but remained nonetheless seductively accessible. Carol Muske-dukes, latimes.com, "Stay, illusion: a tribute to Lucie Brock-Broido by Carol Muske-Dukes," 8 Mar. 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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Time Traveler for hermetic

The first known use of hermetic was in 1605

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How to pronounce hermetic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hermetic

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


her·​met·​ic | \ (ˌ)hər-ˈmet-ik How to pronounce hermetic (audio) \

Medical Definition of hermetic

: being airtight or impervious to air

Other Words from hermetic

hermetically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce hermetically (audio) \ adverb

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Spanish Central: Translation of hermetic

Nglish: Translation of hermetic for Spanish Speakers

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