Today, the word hermetic is a synonym of "airtight", normally preceding some form the word seal. The term, which was first applied specifically in reference to glass bottles, originated from the world of alchemy, where potions had to be made in airtight flasks. Most of the instructions for these distillations were first written out in a fifteenth-century manuscript called the Corpus Hermeticum, which was named after its purported author, Hermes Trismegistus, a hybrid of the Greek messenger god Hermes and some other deities. The name Hermes is of uncertain origin; the best explanation out there is that it may derive from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction ser, meaning "bind". Usage of the word hermetic peaked in 1994 and has been declining since.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.