Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An ancient Greek priest who interpreted sacred mysteries, especially the priest of the Eleusinian mysteries.
  • n. An interpreter of sacred mysteries or arcane knowledge.
  • n. One who explains or makes a commentary.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An ancient Greek priest who interpreted sacred mysteries, especially the priest of the Eleusinian mysteries.
  • n. An interpreter of sacred mysteries or arcane knowledge.
  • n. One who explains or makes a commentary.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The presiding priest who initiated candidates at the Eleusinian mysteries
  • n. an advocate or spokesperson.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ancient Greece, a teacher of the rites of sacrifice and worship; hence, a demonstrator of sacred mysteries or religious knowledge; a priest.

Etymologies

Late Latin hierophanta, from Greek hierophantēs : hieros, holy; see eis- in Indo-European roots + -phantēs, one who shows (from phainein, phan-, to show; see bhā-1 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἱεροφάντης (hierophantēs), from ἱερός (hieros, "holy") + φαίνω (phainō, "I show, make known") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This would be a good exercise for your inner hierophant.

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • But I always thought hierophant was feminine gender.

    Sudden Rain

  • I was about to offer a lie to the arthygater, since the truth displeased her, when the hierophant halted the torments.

    Wildfire

  • We know the answer of the Spartan whom a hierophant would have persuaded to confess himself: “To whom should I acknowledge my faults? to God, or to thee?”

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • Grecian hierophant, Calchas, the moment of your just punishment has returned again; the hour of vengeance has arrived — the bell has sounded! the druid and calchas.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • It is indisputable, that persons had not their sins washed away in these mysteries, but by virtue of their oath to become virtuous: the hierophant in all the Grecian mysteries, when dismissing the assembly, pronounced the two Egyptian words, “Koth, ompheth,” “watch, be pure”; which at once proves that the mysteries came originally from Egypt, and that they were invented solely for the purpose of making mankind better.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • Eleusinian mysteries, he confessed himself to the hierophant, though no man had less need of confession than himself.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • This secret was undoubtedly not worth knowing, as the assembly was not a society of philosophers, but of ignorant persons, directed by a hierophant.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • The 95 year-old hierophant Nestorius, ends the Eleusinian Mysteries and announces the predominance of mental darkness over the human race.

    The Church-State Alliance and the future of humanity

  • Among others, they burn down the Eleusinian Sanctuary and burn alive all of its priests (including the hierophant of Mithras Hilarius).

    The Church-State Alliance and the future of humanity

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Comments

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  • hadn't a cloo as to what this was. part of the title in an old steve hackett song...

    November 18, 2008

  • More precisely: phan- is "show, reveal" in Greek. To it was attached an agent ending -tês (as in the ancestors of 'athlete', 'Cypriot'), so phantês "revealer". Add to this hier- "sacred" and the connecting vowel -o- between consonants, and we get hierophantês "revealer of the sacred", first declension masculine.

    In Latin the corresponding ending is -a (as in nauta, agricola), so it got borrowed into Latin as hierophanta. Here normal phonetic processes accumulate to lose the final -a and change the other sounds to their modern English values.

    The Greek verb meaning "show" is listed in dictionaries under a citation form—either present indicative phainô "I show" or infinitive phainein "show". This latter consists of the root phan-, a verb class formative (I think) -j-, and the infinitive ending -ein. In early Greek phanj- changed to phain-. So the phant- doesn't come from this; what they share is rather the basic root phan-. It may seem pedantic to write all this out, but I increasingly think the alternative is misleading: to suggest that -phant somehow comes phonetically from phainein.

    August 18, 2008

  • A prophet; from Greek: 'hiera' holy things 'phanein' to bring to light.

    August 18, 2008