hy·​per·​bo·​re·​an | \ ˌhī-pər-ˈbȯr-ē-ən How to pronounce hyperborean (audio) , -(ˌ)pər-bə-ˈrē-ən \

Definition of hyperborean

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 often capitalized : a member of a people held by the ancient Greeks to live beyond the north wind in a region of perpetual sunshine
2 : an inhabitant of a cool northern climate



Definition of hyperborean (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of or relating to an extreme northern region : frozen
2 : of or relating to any of the arctic peoples

Hyperborean Has Roots in Greek Mythology


In ancient Greek mythology, the Hyperboreoi were a people who lived in a northern paradise of perpetual sunshine beyond the reaches of the god of the north wind. Their name located them within the Greek world; it combined the prefix hyper-, meaning "above," and Boreas, the Greek name for the north wind. When hyperborean first appeared in our language in the 15th century, it named those legendary folk. By the late 1500s, though, the word was being used more generally for anything relating to the far north or the people who lived there.

First Known Use of hyperborean


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hyperborean


Latin Hyperborei (plural), from Greek Hyperboreoi, from hyper- + Boreas

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Cite this Entry

“Hyperborean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperborean. Accessed 29 Sep. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on hyperborean

Nglish: Translation of hyperborean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hyperborean

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