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

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 While there are some people who enjoy the hermetic solitude of a December night, the quiet company of books or fire, and anticipate the time off for work, many others have weathered a winter alone – not by choice, but for the sake of public health. Gala Mukomolova, refinery29.com, 18 Dec. 2021 The story is blissfully hermetic, its characters sipping peppermint lattes in a winter wonderland devoid of anti-gay bigotry. Brandon Tensley, CNN, 2 Dec. 2021 How can her novels, which are seemingly compact, hermetic, and inward-facing, be squared with that public activism? Ruth Margalit, The New York Review of Books, 5 Nov. 2020 The goal is to create the digital equivalent of a hermetic seal between the three teams, who all work on an identical coding project. Martin Giles, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 Tyler invested Gunther, who was otherwise the stuff of sitcom cliché, with a biting awareness of his own exclusion from the show’s hermetic main group. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 26 Oct. 2021 His images are as rigid and hermetic as the illustrations in a graphic novel. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 22 Oct. 2021 The show’s neo-Surrealists and abstractionists are too miscellaneous and hermetic to do more than gesture in a compensatory direction. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2021 That visual detachment reflects the film’s hermetic indifference to the world outside the movie’s drama. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 23 Aug. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near hermetic

Hermes Trismegistus



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Last Updated

8 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hermetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hermetic. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on hermetic

Nglish: Translation of hermetic for Spanish Speakers


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