Monday, August 26, 2002

Etymology Today from M-W: apotheosis \uh-pah-thee-OH-suss or ap-uh-THEE-uh-suss ("th" as in "think")\
1 : elevation to divine status : deification; 2 : the perfect example : quintessence

Among the ancient Greeks, it was sometimes thought fitting -- or simply handy, say if you wanted a god somewhere in your bloodline -- to grant someone or other god status. So they created the word "apotheosis," meaning "making into a god." (The prefix "apo-" can mean simply "quite" or "completely," and "theos" is the Greek word for "god.") There's not a lot of Greek-style apotheosizing in the 21st century, but there is hero-worship. Our extended use of "apotheosis" as "elevation to divine status" is the equivalent of "placement on a very high pedestal." Even more common these days is to use "apotheosis" in reference to a perfect example or ultimate form. For example, one might describe a movie as "the apotheosis of the sci-fi movie genre."

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