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 Trismegistusb : 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 sealb : impervious to external influence trapped inside the hermetic military machine — Jack Newfieldc : recluse, solitary leads a hermetic life
hermeticallyplay \(ˌ)hər-ˈme-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
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Examples of hermetic in a sentence
wrote hermetic poetry whose sole intended readership was himself
Did You Know?
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."
Origin and Etymology of hermetic
Medieval Latin hermeticus, from Hermet-, Hermes Trismegistus
First Known Use: 1605
HERMETIC Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of hermetic for English Language Learners
: closed tightly so that no air can go in or out
Biographical Note for hermetic
Hermes Trismegistus \ˈhər-(ˌ)mēz-ˌtris-mə-ˈjis-təs\play , Greek mythological character. Hermes Trismegistus was identified by the Greeks with the Egyptian god Thoth. To him was ascribed authorship of various works on astrology, magic, alchemy, and medicine. It was also believed that he had invented a magic seal to keep vessels airtight, and from his name the adjective hermetic meaning airtight was derived.
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