Definition of stylite in English:



  • An ascetic living on top of a pillar, especially in ancient or medieval Syria, Turkey, and Greece in the 5th century ad.

    • ‘Known as a stylite, or one who lives on a pillar, he virtually impaled himself physically for a lifetime but thereby gained spiritual eternity.’
    • ‘Watching him, I can't help but think of the stylites, fanatical Christian monks of the Middle Ages who would plant themselves atop columns in the desert and stay there for weeks and months.’
    • ‘It represents St. Simeon the stylite atop his pillar with details of his bare ribs and naked body showing.’
    • ‘But within ten months he was permitted to set out for the Holy Land, with the blessing of a nearby stylite.’
    • ‘Simeon, like many of the stylites, was completely orthodox in his theology.’


Mid 17th century: from ecclesiastical Greek stulitēs, from stulos pillar.