Definition of maenad in English:



  • (in ancient Greece) a female follower of Bacchus, traditionally associated with divine possession and frenzied rites.

    • ‘They dance in imitation of maenads who associated with the god in the old days.’
    • ‘His following is made up of satyrs and sileni (amoral woodland creatures, basically human but with some animal characteristics) and maenads, who seem possessed or intoxicated.’
    • ‘In the context of the Counter-Reformation, there is also a fascinating echo here of the standard format of an altarpiece, with the satyrs and maenads at the foot of the painting taking the place normally occupied by donors.’
    • ‘He (or she, for this god could be tantalizingly androgynous) is said to have come from the East, with his maenads, fauns, satyrs, and wine lunacy.’
    • ‘Dionysos and his satyrs, nymphs, and maenads are, of course, found everywhere in the ancient world, but they appear most frequently in dining rooms and gardens.’


Late 16th century: via Latin from Greek Mainas, Mainad-, from mainesthai ‘to rave’.