pantheon • \PAN-thee-ahn\ • noun
1 : a temple dedicated to all the gods; also : the gods of a people
2 : a group of illustrious persons
With his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the former player joined a pantheon of legends from the sport.
Did you know?
Some of the earliest uses of this word in the English language refer to that most famous Pantheon, the circular domed temple built in Rome more than 19 centuries ago (and still standing). We can easily identify the origins of the temple’s name, which the Romans borrowed from the Greek word for a temple honoring all their gods. That Greek word, “pantheion,” combines “pan-” (“all”) and “theos” (“god”). Later on, in English, “all the gods” was used to mean just that — a pantheon could be a collective of gods (as “the Egyptian pantheon”). We stop short of worshiping outstanding men and women as actual gods, of course, but nevertheless, in the 19th century we also began using “pantheon” as a word for any eminent company of the highly venerated.