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Apr 8, 2009
This week's theme
People who have more than one word coined after them

This week's words
ciceronian
maudlin
hermetic
Cadmean victory
pickwickian

Today's word in
Visual Thesaurus

Hermes Trismegistus, Siena Cathedral
Hermes Trismegistus
Detail from a floor mosaic
Siena Cathedral, Italy

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with Anu Garg

hermetic

PRONUNCIATION:
(huhr-MET-ik)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Airtight.
2. Not affected by outside influence.
3. Relating to the occult sciences, especially alchemy; magical.
4. Obscure or hard to understand.

ETYMOLOGY:
From the belief that Hermes Trismegistus invented a seal to keep a vessel airtight in alchemy. Who was Hermes Trismegistus? It was the name of a legendary figure that Greek neo-Platonists thought was a blend of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Trismegistos is Greek for thrice-greatest, from tris (thrice) + megistos (greatest), ultimately from the Indo-European root meg- (great) that's also the source of words such as magnificent, maharajah, mahatma, master, mayor, maestro, magnate, magistrate, maximum, and magnify.
Another word coined after Hermes is hermeneutic meaning interpretive or explanatory.

USAGE:
"So far, however, the net increase in accessibility and therefore accountability is welcome and popular compared to the hermetic secrecy and executive authoritarianism of the Bush administration."
Obama Makes An Early Impression; The Irish Times (Dublin); Mar 27, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Ah! what a divine religion might be found out if charity were really made the principle of it instead of faith. -Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet (1792-1822)

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