Hermes is a name with a few similar sounding words, all of which (that I'm aware of) are related to traits of Hermes:

  • Hermeticism: a spiritual tradition based on Hermes as corresponding with Egyptian Thoth, associated with magic, writing, intellect, language's roots, and more. Etymology traces this to Latin hermeticus, derived from the name of the Greek god Hermes.

  • Hermeneutics: an art and science of deep interpretation, especially of sacred texts. Etymology traces this to Greek ἑρμηνεύς (hermeneus, "translator, interpreter"), which is of unknown origin, but a folk etymology for hermeneutics associates it with Hermes.

  • Hermetic seal: Wikipedia's page on Hermeticism notes "Hermes Trimegistus supposedly invented the process of making a glass tube airtight (a process in alchemy) using a secret seal. Hence, the term "completely sealed" is implied in "hermetically sealed" and the term "hermetic" is also equivalent to "occult" or hidden."

  • Hermit and hermitage: a life setting (physical, emotional, or both) based on isolation from other humans, originating from "the Greek ἐρημίτης (erēmitēs), "of the desert", which in turn comes from ἔρημος (erēmos), signifying "desert", "uninhabited", hence "desert-dweller"; adjective: "eremitic"."

Hermit seems to be the only word sounding like Hermes but not etymologically linked to Hermes. Is there a clear link, historic or otherwise, between hermit and Hermes?

For what it's worth, the Greek for "interpretation" and for "of the desert" are quite similar, sharing their beginning but differing in their middle and end:

ἑρμηνεύς - hermeneus - interpretation
ἐρημίτης - erēmitēs - of the desert
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    Good question. My understanding is it is fundamentally related to the "mercurial" quality of the god. I'll think on it, and see if I can cobble together an answer (likely to be general as esoteric writings are not so available and easy to reference online.)
    – DukeZhou
    Feb 28, 2019 at 17:35
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    The etymologies are worth examining. I did a quick search on Perseus for ἑρμ / ἐρη (although I wasn't able to get a list specifying the aspiration.) My sense of the connection with deserts has to do with trade and trade routes, and the use of pillars of stones ("herms" used to guide travelers.
    – DukeZhou
    Mar 1, 2019 at 18:55
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    The concept of interpretation seems to come from this idea that a monument is a symbol, which is attributed to Euripides in the LSJ entry for ἑρμήν-ευμα: perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/…. It's been a while since I looked at this, so I'll need a little time to compile info, but I think I can answer.
    – DukeZhou
    Mar 1, 2019 at 19:00
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    Maybe these links help? etymonline.com/word/hermit && wikiwand.com/en/Hermes#/Etymology_and_origins
    – mrcasals
    Mar 4, 2019 at 20:24
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    That is a nice question. Maybe this is still "hermetically sealed" and as you said, the term "hermetic" is also equivalent to "occult" or hidden." I guess is the case for now, until you find out. I guess one possible link, not a clear one, is that Hermes is connected to the occult, so the gypsy people who carried occult knowledge like tarot (derived from Thot-Hermes) can be considered hermits in some way? Maybe this could be a lead. Hope it helps, seeker.
    – mmelotti
    Mar 12, 2019 at 1:47

4 Answers 4


The 'h" in hermit is unetymological, in Dutch for example we still say "eremiet", not "heremiet". The word is not etymologically linked to Hermes.


Just to expand on what Codosaur said, here's the Etymonline link:

early 12c., "religious recluse, one who dwells apart in a solitary place for religious meditation," from Old French hermit, ermit "hermit, recluse," from Late Latin eremita, from Greek eremites, literally "person of the desert," from eremia "a solitude, an uninhabited region, a waste," from erēmos "uninhabited, empty, desolate, bereft," from PIE *erem- "to rest, be quiet" (source also of Sanskrit ramate "to rest;" Lithuanian rimti "to be quiet," Gothic rimis "rest," Old Irish fo-rimim "to set, lay"). The unetymological h- first appeared in Medieval Latin heremite.

Hyper-correction was common in Medieval Latin. An initial h- would often be written but unpronounced (in Classical Latin, as well as Medieval Latin), and so perhaps someone saw the word and connected it to Hermes or just was confused and added the h- even though it didn't belong. You see similar mix-ups with ae/oe. The Latin word for "sky" is caelum, but you'll often see it printed as coelum. Turns out both were pronounced as "e" and even written as such (thus: celestial), leading to the confusion.


Wanderers take thier journey either alone or with a family of like minded

The path of a hermeticist is the same as a hermet studying nature and living and studying with and within oneself.

The wisdom found is inner and not somthing somebody can just tell u ... the journey itself is the initiation the even tho we all come to reach the same universal truths perspectivly we are all alone. Because one thing we all agree on nobody has same perspective so a hermetic path is hermeticly sealed by perspective and to each thier own path!


The link is straight forward Hermes is the god of traveller's wanderers. Hermits are wonderers of the desert.

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    Hi and welcome to M&F SE, please take a second to take our tour. On this forum, we really like to add some context/sources to our answers/questions, even if the message you want to deliver seems easy and straightforward to you, it may not be to others. And as per your answer you say the link between hermits and Hermes is clear but I'd rather see an opposition between wanderers and people looking for isolation from other humans
    – Calaom
    May 13, 2019 at 7:25
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    Please try to add sources sustaining your answer and a more sustainable explanation to your thinking. I'll be glad to help you if needed!
    – Calaom
    May 13, 2019 at 7:28

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