Definitions

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

  • n. Exaltation to divine rank or stature; deification.
  • n. Elevation to a preeminent or transcendent position; glorification: "Many observers have tried to attribute Warhol's current apotheosis to the subversive power of artistic vision” ( Michiko Kakutani).
  • n. An exalted or glorified example: Their leader was the apotheosis of courage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The fact or action of becoming or making into a god; deification.
  • n. Glorification, exaltation; crediting someone with extraordinary power or status.
  • n. A glorified example or ideal; the apex or pinnacle (of a concept or belief).
  • n. The best moment or highest point in the development of something, for example of a life or career; the apex, culmination, or climax (of a development).
  • n. Loosely, release from earthly life, ascension to heaven; death.
  • n. The latent entity that mediates between a person's psyche and their thoughts. The id, ego and superego in Freudian Psychology are examples of this.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.pl. The act of elevating a mortal to the rank of, and placing him among, “the gods;” deification.
  • n.pl. Glorification; exaltation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Deification; consecration; specifically, under the Roman empire, the formal attribution of divine honors to a deceased emperor or other member of the imperial family.
  • n. . Figuratively, excessive honor paid to any great or distinguished person; the ascription of extraordinary virtues or superhuman qualities to a human being.
  • n. The personification and undue exaltation of a virtue, a sentiment, or an idea.

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

  • n. model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal
  • n. the elevation of a person (as to the status of a god)

Etymologies

Late Latin apotheōsis, from Greek, from apotheoun, to deify : apo-, change; see apo- + theos, god.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἀποθέωσις, from verb ἀποθεόω ("deify") (factitive verb formed from θεός ("God") with intensive prefix ἀπο-). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Blagojevich is regularly described as the apotheosis of the shady Illinois politician -- a genus that rivals the Louisiana and Jersey City variety for chicanery.

    Allison Silver: A Lesser Class of Rogue

  • In the classic world, the word apotheosis was given to the ceremony that conferred the condition of gods upon a nation's heroes.

    August 2006

  • But we speak now separately of human testimony, according to which — that which the Grecians call apotheosis, and the Latins relatio inter divos — was the supreme honour which man could attribute unto man, specially when it was given, not by a formal decree or act of state (as it was used among the Roman Emperors), but by an inward assent and belief.

    The Advancement of Learning

  • After that comes what the Greeks would have termed apotheosis.

    LEE’S LIEUTENANTS

  • The flower-maidens 'chorus in _Parsifal_ might be called the apotheosis of Italian song.

    Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde"; an essay on the Wagnerian drama

  • Syndicalism is described as the apotheosis of proletarian autonomy.

    Political Parties; a Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy

  • The apologists also keep the idea of apotheosis secondary to that of a full knowledge of God, [404] but even after the great epoch when

    The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries

  • Horrified and fascinated, I saw what might be called the apotheosis of Slippy McGee, so far above him was it, come back and subtly and awfully blend with my scientist.

    Slippy McGee, Sometimes Known as the Butterfly Man

  • Nightingale and Thrush, to tell of the glorious ascent (what the old and learned creatures of the earth would have called the apotheosis) of the Dewdrop on the rose-leaf; its severance into a million fragments; and how these, in the shape of a great army, had marched right within

    The Story of a Dewdrop

  • But we speak now separately of human testimony, according to which -- that which the Grecians call apotheosis, and the Latins relatio inter divos -- was the supreme honour which man could attribute unto man, specially when it was given, not by a formal decree or act of state (as it was used among the Roman Emperors), but by an inward assent and belief.

    The Advancement of Learning

Comments

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  • One of Faulkner's favourites.

    November 13, 2011

  • Ooh! Ooh! I've verbed this word in my blog and need the past simple tense. I'm going with 'apotheosized' as in: 'It is mandatory if we are to coexist with these apotheosized creations of ours.' (referring to Strong AIs)

    April 23, 2010

  • A favorite word of the New York Times

    January 17, 2009


  • The first time ever I read this word was in the blurb for a classical LP; specifically for Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, in which one of the movements (I assume the 3rd) was described as "the apotheosis of the dance". It must refer to the second meaning: "model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal".

    Another poth-y word.

    December 13, 2008

  • If you read Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, where the character enters Rome's St. Peter's Basilica, you will encounter an example of apotheosis. The movement is not that obvious, but it is there. It gets played out in an episode of combat and opposition. I found that troubling when I first read the work. Byron, and his Schilleresque sense of the sublime, kind of struck me like the guy was a jerk. A self-aggrandizing jerk.

    April 23, 2007

  • i most associate apotheosis with the painting in the US Capitol Building: The Apotheosis of George Washington. when i first saw it i was like 'what the heck?!' i like George and all, but he never became a god in *my* world ;-)

    March 26, 2007

  • There is a Babylon 5 episode "Falling towards Apotheosis", which is where I first heard this word.

    February 1, 2007