pan·​op·​tic | \ ˌpa-ˈnäp-tik How to pronounce panoptic (audio) \

Definition of panoptic

: being or presenting a comprehensive or panoramic view a panoptic view of the city

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Panoptic Has Greek Origins

The establishment of panoptic in the English language can be attributed to two inventions known as panopticons. The more well-known panopticon was conceived by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1787. Bentham’s panopticon was a circular prison with cells arranged around a central tower from which guards could see the inmates at all times. The other panopticon, also created in the 18th century, was a device containing pictures of attractions, such as European capitals, that people viewed through an opening. Considering the views that both inventions gave, it is not hard to see why panoptic (a word derived from Greek panoptēs, meaning "all-seeing") was being used by the early 19th century.

Examples of panoptic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The pressures of anchoring a hit show compelled McGoohan to conjure a panoptic resort/prison for priceless intelligence assets called The Village, and cult history was made. Scott Thill, WIRED, "Q&A: Can Jim Caviezel Fill Patrick McGoohan’s Prisoner Shoes?," 24 July 2009

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'panoptic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of panoptic

1826, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for panoptic

Greek panoptēs all-seeing, from pan- + opsesthai to be going to see — more at optic

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Time Traveler for panoptic

The first known use of panoptic was in 1826

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More Definitions for panoptic


pan·​op·​tic | \ (ˈ)pan-ˈäp-tik How to pronounce panoptic (audio) \

Medical Definition of panoptic

: permitting everything to be seen microscopic study of tissues treated with a panoptic stain

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Comments on panoptic

What made you want to look up panoptic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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