hermetic

adjective
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

Synonyms

abstruse, arcane, deep, esoteric, profound, recondite

Antonyms

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

North Korea is so hermetic that foreign intelligence agencies were not sure Mr. Kim was heir apparent until a few years before the death of his secretive and dour father. Choe Sang-hun, New York Times, "North Korean Leader, Known for His Bluster, Reveals Diplomatic Skills," 7 Mar. 2018 As president of the Korean friendship association, Mr. Quennedey has traveled to the hermetic nation multiple times. Matthew Dalton, WSJ, "French Civil Servant Accused of Spying for North Korea Is Charged," 29 Nov. 2018 The polarization of politics over the past two decades stems directly from this increasingly hermetic view of the world. Daniel Mendelsohn, Town & Country, "Is This the End of Civility As We Know It?," 29 June 2016 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

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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Statistics for hermetic

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for hermetic

The first known use of hermetic was in 1605

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More Definitions for hermetic

hermetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of hermetic

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

hermetic

adjective
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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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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