her·​met·​ic (ˌ)hər-ˈme-tik How to pronounce hermetic (audio)
variants or less commonly hermetical
often capitalized
: of or relating to the mystical and alchemical writings or teachings arising in the first three centuries a.d. and attributed to Hermes Trismegistus
: 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
[from the belief that Hermes Trismegistus invented a magic seal to keep vessels airtight]
: airtight
hermetic seal
: impervious to external influence
trapped inside the hermetic military machineJack Newfield
: recluse, solitary
leads a hermetic life

Did you know?

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 It was dismissed as melodrama and a history lesson, more an outburst than a play, neither art nor entertainment, as mechanical, medicinal, didactic, hermetic, clumsy, creaky, icy, turgid, empty, and labored—some of which remains true. Stacy Schiff, The New York Review of Books, 22 Dec. 2022 The events of the 2018 Halloween deem the sequels non-canonical, choosing instead to focus on the hermetic life of a now 60-something Laurie Strode, her daughter (Judy Greer), and their relentless pursuit by one Michael Myers. Amy MacKelden, ELLE, 28 Aug. 2023 Between the local bus strike and an absurdist demonstration by hospital workers, a sense of societal unrest permeates the otherwise hermetic microcosm in which the film takes place. Peter Debruge, Variety, 3 Aug. 2023 But ‘Asteroid City,’ as extravagant and hermetic as one of King Ludwig’s crazy castles, is more excessively mannered than any other Wes Anderson picture. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2023 Such living arrangements represent a hermetic ideal, escapist redoubts for those who reject rules and norms decided by a democratic collective. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, 19 June 2023 The hermetic setting intensifies those hothouse dynamics, which the actors often bring to life beyond what Thorndike’s bare-bones script gives them to work with. Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 June 2023 Yet like his other duds, it’s marked by a kind of hermetic mischievous self-love. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 4 June 2023 The last-minute cancellation of the in-person Park City festival once again lifted Sundance’s hermetic air of industry exclusivity: Like in 2021, anyone online could buy a ticket to screenings, and the onslaught of films were a breeze to navigate from your laptop. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 4 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Medieval Latin hermeticus, from Hermet-, Hermes Trismegistus

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of hermetic was in 1605


Dictionary Entries Near hermetic

Cite this Entry

“Hermetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hermetic. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

Medical Definition


her·​met·​ic (ˌ)hər-ˈmet-ik How to pronounce hermetic (audio)
: being airtight or impervious to air
hermetically adverb

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