Also found in: Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


 (yo͞o-hē′mə-rĭz′əm, -hĕm′ə-)
A theory attributing the origin of the gods to the deification of historical heroes.

[After Euhemerus, fourth-century bc Greek philosopher.]

eu·he′mer·ist n.
eu·he′mer·is′tic adj.
eu·he′mer·is′ti·cal·ly adv.
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. (Classical Myth & Legend) the theory that gods arose out of the deification of historical heroes
2. (Classical Myth & Legend) any interpretation of myths that derives the gods from outstanding men and seeks the source of mythology in history
[C19: named after Euhemerus (?300 bc), Greek philosopher who propounded this theory]
euˈhemerist n
euˌhemerˈistic adj
euˌhemerˈistically adv
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(yuˈhi məˌrɪz əm, -ˈhɛm ə-)

1. (sometimes cap.) the theory that the gods and the myths associated with them arose from the deification of great persons.
2. any interpretation of myths that attributes their origin to historical persons.
[1840–50; Euhemer(us) (flourished 300 b.c.), Greek author who advanced the idea + -ism]
eu•he′mer•ist, n.
eu•he`mer•is′tic, adj.
eu•he`mer•is′ti•cal•ly, adv.
eu•he′mer•ize`, v.t., v.i. -ized, -iz•ing.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


the belief that the mythological gods were merely early kings and heroes deified. — euhemerist, n.euhemeristic, adj.
See also: God and Gods
the belief that the mythological gods were merely legendary kings and heroes deified. — euhemerist, n. — euhemeristic, adj.
See also: Mythology
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
and not only do we have the narratives preserved but also the ancient attempts to probe and interpret them through allegory, personification and euhemerism (an ancient form of reductionism), linked often with a healthy scepticism.
In a second section on nature, politics, and religion, the atheism of the Theophrastus is compared firstly to euhemerism, as Lorenzo Bianchi studies the text's rational analysis of the origins and imposition of religions, and secondly to pantheism, as Miguel Benitez assesses the atheist author's respect for the reasonableness of deifying elements of nature that are beneficial to all rather than inventing gods.
Finally, Byock provides an excellent argument for euhemerism which demonstrates the character Floki is obviously meant to represent within the series, either as a man, or a friend of the ^sir incognito.
(50) In a series of rhetorical questions aimed at the French general, Defoe elevates English forces to the point of euhemerism;
(4.) This is an oddly appropriate phrase from Blade Runner--a film made in 1982 but set in 2012--used to characterize "replicants" (created beings who are prematurely "retired," a euhemerism for killed).
As part of his ongoing research into ancient utopias, Polish classicist Winiarczyk has expanded his 2002 study, in German, of fourth-century BC Greek mythographer Euhemerus, who argued that deities had once been human whose stories were elaborated over the centuries, a theory now called euhemerism. He covers the life of Euhemerus, his novel Sacred History, his theological views, society and economy in Sacred History, the Zeus sanctuary on the island of Panchaea, an attempt to interpret Sacred History, Ennius' Euhemerus sive sacra historia, and euhemerism in the ancient world.
Euhemerism is a Hellenistically-influenced approach inspired by and derived from the work of the fourth century BCE Greek scholar Euhemerus of Messene who rationalised the question of religious worship, myth, and history.
(15) The latter type of allegoresis is also known as euhemerism (continued in the rationalizing mythographic interpretation founded by Palaephatus in Incredible Tales).
Chapter 4 brings to bear the perspective of Renaissance euhemerism on book 5 of The Faerie Queene.
Practicing a form of linguistic euhemerism, he demonstrated to his own satisfaction that the tales of the age of the gods were originally tales of humans that had been distorted and transmogrified.(12) For example, he argued through complicated linguistic analysis (and some stretched reasoning) that the Plain of High Heaven where the gods dwelt was actually located in Hitachi Province.
I suspect that the scholarly assumption that somewhere beneath the legend there must lurk a real historical founder is a modern case of Euhemerism, the belief of ancient historians that all the mythic gods had first been historical heroes, kings, warriors, physicians, etc.
The first of these presents a literary equivalent to deification, the channel by which numen is relayed to humanity; the second parallels euhemerism, the process by which humans rise to the stature of godhead.