seraph


seraph

noun, plural ser·aphs, ser·a·phim [seruh-fim] /ˈsɛr ə fɪm/.

  1. one of the celestial beings hovering above God’s throne in Isaiah’s vision. Isa. 6.
  2. a member of the highest order of angels, often represented as a child’s head with wings above, below, and on each side.

noun plural -aphs or -aphim (-əfɪm)

  1. theol a member of the highest order of angels in the celestial hierarchies, often depicted as the winged head of a child
  2. Old Testament one of the fiery six-winged beings attendant upon Jehovah in Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah 6)

n.1667, first used by Milton (probably on analogy of cherub/cherubim), back-formed singular from Old English seraphim (plural), from Late Latin seraphim, from Greek seraphim, from Hebrew seraphim (only in Isa. vi), plural of *saraph (which does not occur in the Bible), probably literally “the burning one,” from saraph “it burned.” Seraphs were traditionally regarded as burning or flaming angels, though the word seems to have some etymological sense of “flying,” perhaps from confusion with the root of Arabic sharafa “be lofty.” Some scholars identify it with a word found in other passages interpreted as “fiery flying serpent.”

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