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 hermetic (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 Rabbi Sassoon, 74, grew up speaking the dialect of Arabic used by Baghdadi Jews—a language hermetic enough to function as a code in Sassoon business dealings, says Dr. Goldstein-Sabbah. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, "Treasures of Judaica From the Sassoon Family Collection," 11 Dec. 2020 It’s about a legendary, hermetic surfer and the photojournalist who follows him to a mythical spot in California. New York Times, "New & Noteworthy, From Cheese to Player Two," 1 Dec. 2020 Yes, they have been replaced by hermetic glass malls surrounded by zillion-dollar condos. Guy Trebay, Town & Country, "New York City Was the Nightlife Capital of the World for Decades. Its History Will Be Its Future.," 3 Dec. 2020 But even the hermetic seal of the hall couldn’t seal out the Big News entirely. Washington Post, "At Kennedy Center recital, baritone Will Liverman is a voice for this historic moment," 8 Nov. 2020 The hermetic reality-distortion that defined the outraged Cuban-American talk radio community has been applied to the country as a whole by conservative media, eventually absorbing the White House. Jeb Lund, The New Republic, "How to Steal an Election," 26 Oct. 2020 Fame has exaggerated the tension between Benito’s drive to understand the world and his more hermetic tendencies. New York Times, "The World According to," 31 Jan. 2020 Ministers from a rival party accused him of trying to engineer a hermetic lockdown to quash the demonstrations, the Ynet website reported. Amy Teibel, Bloomberg.com, "Israel Controversially Tightens Lockdown as Virus Cases Soar," 24 Sep. 2020 That hermetic quality is distinct from certain strains of influenza, which globe-trot along with international travelers. Gregory Barber, Wired, "Colds Nearly Vanished Under Lockdown. Now They’re Coming Back," 21 Sep. 2020

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

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The first known use of hermetic was in 1605

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Last Updated

21 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hermetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hermetic. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for hermetic


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 hermetic (audio) \ adverb

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Nglish: Translation of hermetic for Spanish Speakers

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