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 Escorting Clarke’s work from the hermetic place where it is created to the outside world has become something of a vocation for Greenland. Laura Miller, The New Yorker, "Susanna Clarke’s Fantasy World of Interiors," 7 Sep. 2020 Whatever entertainment can get made, experts say, will have a more hermetic look. Washington Post, "The pandemic will make movies and TV shows look like nothing we’ve seen before," 12 Aug. 2020 The hunt gives her a mission to push through the hermetic norms of prevailing culture, which mostly obliges her, revealing its secret strength of kindness; her mission and her nature seem fortunately shaped to bring out the best in people. Mark Kramer, Star Tribune, "Review: 'The Lost Pianos of Siberia,' by Sophy Roberts," 31 July 2020 Co-creator Duncan Trussell voices Clancy, a hermetic simulation farmer in an impossibly lysergic future who spends his days interviewing people on dying worlds. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, "The best TV shows of 2020… so far," 1 July 2020 There was no one to block access, a true feat in the hermetic world of top-flight sports, where millions of dollars are spent manicuring the images of teams and athletes. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Sunderland ‘Til I Die is TV’s Best Show about Failure," 1 Apr. 2020 The Gucci model, face covered, conveys a new type of hermetic pagan divinity. Cintra Wilson, The New York Review of Books, "Waste Not, Shop Not," 11 Feb. 2020 Explore nearby Around Roussanou are 16 ancient hermetic caves (pack your climbing boots) and five other functioning clifftop monasteries (of the original 24). National Geographic, "This clifftop monastery is surprisingly accessible," 4 Feb. 2020 The drama unfolds in a hermetic world at times not unlike that of a three-character play, and the actors expertly negotiate the shifting dynamic among them. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Summer White' ('Blanco de Verano'): Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 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

16 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hermetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hermetic. Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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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 hermetically (audio) \ adverb

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