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apotheosis

Printable Version Pronunciation: ê-pah-thee-o-sis Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Glorification, exaltation to the rank of a god, deification. 2. Someone or something that has been so deified or glorified.

Notes: Today's Good Word is one used too often when epitome "a perfect example" is intended. Keep in mind that it should be reserved for those who have been elevated to a position near that of a god or the process of such elevation itself. This word is the noun from the verb apotheose; we apotheose those whom we elevate to god-like stature. Don't forget that, like all English nouns ending in -is, the plural is formed by changing this ending to -es: apotheoses.

In Play: Keep in mind that this word generally refers to the process of elevating someone to godhood: "I left Creighton Barrel's party last night when the afterdinner dissertation turned into an apotheosis of Creighton's elder son, now a Whitehouse intern." Be careful not to use it as a synonym of epitome but to denote someone who has been glorified to the point of being a god: "Martin Luther King became the apotheosis of the civil rights movement before his assassination in 1968."

Word History: Today's Good Word turned up in late Latin, which traced it from an identical Greek noun. The Greek noun came from the verb apotheoun "to deify", a verb made up of apo "off, completely" + theos "god". The root of theos appears in many English borrowings from Greek: atheism "godlessness", theocracy "religious government", but also enthusiasm, based on a Greek adjective entheos "having a god within". It began its life in English meaning "rapture caused by God". In Latin the same root produced fesiae "holidays (holy days)" which later became feriae (German Ferien today). This word was borrowed by Old English at various stages of its development, leading to English feast, fest and fair. (We needn't apotheose the inexplicable Grogie for suggesting Today's Good Word in the Alpha Agora, but he does deserve a hearty round of applause.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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