Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Pertaining to the underworld; being beneath the earth.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Designating, or pertaining to, gods or spirits of the underworld; esp., relating to the underworld gods of the Greeks, whose worship is widely considered as more primitive in form than that of the Olympian gods. The characteristics of chthonian worship are propitiatory and magical rites and generalized or euphemistic names of the deities, which are supposed to have been primarily ghosts.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or relating to the under world; subterranean.
  • Springing from the earth.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. dwelling beneath the surface of the earth

Etymologies

From Ancient Greek χθόνιος (khthonios, "in or under the ground"), from χθών (khthōn, "ground"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In early times the Greek worship was most earnestly directed to that set of deities who resided at the gloomy centre of the earth, and who were called the chthonian gods. 66 The hope of immortality first sprung up and was nourished in connection with this worship.

    The Destiny of the Soul A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life

  • Perhaps the smell of blood, dark and chthonian, at the precise moment that the bird screamed, awakened something deep and intrinsic in what remained of Pan's consciousness.

    La insistencia de Jürgen Fauth

  • Hall, Etruscan Italy 1996, p.70: "In the Near East, eggs were considered symbols of fertility, life-giving power, and, ultimately, resurrection; and the Etruscans' paintings and artifacts suggest that they, too, viewed the egg as a chthonian motif."

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • Theirs was not the Sol Glissant swimming-pool blue of Suzy's eyes, however, but a sapphire blue, almost an anthracite blue, as if hardened into being by millions of pounds of chthonian thrust.

    Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

  • Conduit of lotus-scented waters, hard little harpoon for an empress's gastric leviathans, polished root from a chthonian garden, it has, when you hold it against the light, the distant dignity and grave passion of a pale green star.

    Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas

  • The pneuma (see below) was a quasi-physical conceptualizing of divine possession, while Georges Roux (Delphes, pp. 110-117) has shown that some kind of symbolic chthonian hole may well have existed under the tripod in the adyton.

    An Exchange on the Oracle

  • But even in Greece we must remember the gloomy chthonian rites, and the degradations of Orphism mentioned by Plato in the _Republic_.

    The Legacy of Greece Essays By: Gilbert Murray, W. R. Inge, J. Burnet, Sir T. L. Heath, D'arcy W. Thompson, Charles Singer, R. W. Livingston, A. Toynbee, A. E. Zimmern, Percy Gardner, Sir Reginald Blomfield

  • It must be strange to die, surrounded by jackals at their chthonian litanies.

    In Mesopotamia

  • Thus at Delphi the stratification of cults~shows us, undermost, the prehistoric, chthonian worship of the pre-Achaeans: Gaia (followed by, or identical with, "Themis"?) and the impersonal nymphs are the earliest tenants of the famous chasm and the spring Kassotis.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 11: New Mexico-Philip

  • Briefly, Nadja carve out great slabs of sound, throbbing and trudging to melodic resolution with incredible slowness, over an entire side of vinyl at a time; you want to say "tectonic" and "chthonian" but not "glacial" because the fuzz-bass is so warm, rising through your feet, and the layered drones are so disorienting.

    Drowned In Sound // Feed

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Comments

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  • In Sexual Personae (chapter 1), Camille Paglia adopts chthonian (pronounced thoh-nee-uhn) as a substitute for Dionysian, “which has become contaminated with vulgar pleasantries.”

    August 28, 2012

  • Pertaining to the deities, spirits, and other beings dwelling under the earth.

    Origin: 1840–50; < Greek chthóni(os) (chthon-, s. of chthn earth + -ios adj. suffix) + -an

    February 2, 2009

  • You enter and are stunned by a conspiracy in which the sublime universe of heavenly ogives and the chthonian world of gas guzzlers are juxtaposed.
    --Umberto Eco, 1988, Foucault's Pendulum, p. 7

    September 29, 2008