(redirected from Hierophancy)


 (hī′ər-ə-fănt′, hī′rə-, hī-ĕr′ə-fənt)
1. An ancient Greek priest who interpreted sacred mysteries, especially the priest of the Eleusinian mysteries.
2. An interpreter of sacred mysteries or arcane knowledge.
3. One who explains or makes a commentary.

[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- in Indo-European roots).]

hi′er·o·phan′tic adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Historical Terms) (in ancient Greece) an official high priest of religious mysteries, esp those of Eleusis
2. a person who interprets and explains esoteric mysteries
[C17: from Late Latin hierophanta, from Greek hierophantēs, from hiero- + phainein to reveal]
ˌhieroˈphantic adj
ˌhieroˈphantically adv
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈhaɪ ər əˌfænt, ˈhaɪ rə-, haɪˈɛr ə fənt)

1. (in the ancient world) the chief priest of a mystery cult, esp. of the Eleusinian mysteries.
2. any interpreter of sacred mysteries or esoteric principles; mystagogue.
[1670–80; < Late Latin hierophanta < Greek hierophántēs=hiero- hiero- + -phántēs, derivative of phaínein to show, make known]
hi`er•o•phan′tic, adj.
hi`er•o•phan′ti•cal•ly, adv.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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In "Hymns in a Man's Life," Lawrence recollects that "Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear," apart from "the didacticism and the sentimentalism," makes him feel "eternally grateful for the wonder with which it filled my childhood." Lawrence would never describe his own religiosity as given to hierophancy, or, for that matter, as fancy or fanciful in the least: "when all comes to all," he insists, wonder, plainly and simply, is "the most precious element in life" ("Hymns," Phoenix II 598).
The pleasure Wordsworth took in his own feelings and volitions, Coleridge's supping on the milk of paradise, Shelley's hierophancy of the fading coal, Keats's squirmy erotic dissolves, that being-more-intense which Byron tasted in creativity--and, epitomizing all these, Blake's pulsation of the artery in which the poet's work is done--what these Romantic passages had in common Victorian spasmody enlarged upon, and inevitably vulgarized.