hi·​ero·​phant | \ ˈhī-(ə-)rə-ˌfant How to pronounce hierophant (audio) , hī-ˈer-ə-fənt How to pronounce hierophant (audio) \

Definition of hierophant

1 : a priest in ancient Greece specifically : the chief priest of the Eleusinian mysteries

Other Words from hierophant

hierophantic \ ˌhī-​(ə-​)rə-​ˈfan-​tik How to pronounce hierophant (audio) , (ˌ)hī-​ˌer-​ə-​ \ adjective

Did you know?

Hierophant, hieroglyphics, and hierarch have a common root: hieros, a Greek word meaning "sacred." Hieroglyphics joins hieros with a derivative of glyphein, the Greek verb for "to carve." Hierarch, a word that can refer to a religious leader in a position of authority, joins hieros with a derivative of archein, meaning "to rule." Hierophant itself joins the root with a derivative of phainein, which means "to show." The original hierophants were priests of the ancient Greek city of Eleusis who performed sacred rites. In the 17th century, when the word was first documented in English, it referred to these priests. By the 19th century, English speakers were using the term in a broader sense. A hierophant can now be a spokesperson, a commentator, an interpreter, or a leading advocate.

Examples of hierophant in a Sentence

as an early hierophant of birth control, Margaret Sanger had to face down often vehement opposition

First Known Use of hierophant

1677, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hierophant

Late Latin hierophanta, from Greek hierophantēs, from hieros + phainein to show — more at fancy

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The first known use of hierophant was in 1677

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Cite this Entry

“Hierophant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hierophant. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on hierophant

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hierophant


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