Definition of herm in US English:



  • A squared stone pillar with a carved head on top (typically of Hermes), used in ancient Greece as a boundary marker or a signpost.

    • ‘Both of the examples treated in detail here, the herm and the fountain house, display unusually specific links between Peisistratid projects and vase imagery, both in red-figure and black-figure.’
    • ‘The Doric entablature the herms carry on their hairy heads provided Sansovino with metopes that he could fill with figural sculpture.’
    • ‘I knew that in one evening Alcibiades had cut the penises off half the herms in Athens.’
    • ‘Hipparchos patronized performers like Anakreon and Simonides, embellished the herms he set up throughout Attica with gnomic sayings, and added Homeric recitals to the Panathenaia.’
    • ‘Shapiro has outlined the way in which Hipparchos's herms, ‘a bearded head of Hermes atop a square pillar with erect phallus,’ appeared in Attica in 521-514.’
    • ‘Vasari's herms, markers of the boundaries of the territories of Venice, had a clear association with the Venetian empire.’
    • ‘This year's herms have been commissioned and are expected to be erected in May and will be of Sorley MacLean, Tom Leonard, Douglas Dunn and Hamish Henderson.’
    • ‘The mysterious concatenations variously conjure Cycladic totems and Greek herms as well as works by Picasso and Ernst.’
    • ‘On the sculpted altar front just behind the garden herm, a female figure on the far right flees while raising her arm.’
    • ‘The bronzes included statuary and furnishings - a statue of a winged Eros, a head of Dionysus on a herm (rectangular shaft), and large statuettes of Eros playing a lyre, of three dancing dwarfs, a satyr, an actor, Hermes, and a dog.’
    • ‘If the women refer to the Ionic of the piano nobile above them, then the Zecca doorway with its herms suggests the mixture of rustic and Doric orders of the first floor of the mint.’
    • ‘Because herms were boundary markers, they could be used on tombs to signal the terminus of life, or, in Giulio Romano's I modi, they could form an enclosure around a couple making love.’
    • ‘Presumably, the door with the herms was designed by Sansovino himself, since he was not only the architect for the Procurators of St. Mark, who had to pay for the new Zecca door, but also the leading sculptor in Venice.’
    • ‘Indeed, the herms are spliced to the rustication by thin pieces of stone that were fitted to the existing masonry before the heavier figures and the shafts were put in place.’
    • ‘We have already mentioned the crucial role of the Pan herm for the theme of cultural conversion in The Finding of Erichthonius.’
    • ‘A bronze herm by Apollonius is the best copy of the head.’
    • ‘Sansovino could have designed a rusticated flat arch for the herms to carry, or even a simple Tuscan entablature without metopes and triglyphs, but instead he chose the Doric.’
    • ‘Sansovino, and some of his employers as well, would surely have known that herms could signify the immutability of the boundaries of Rome.’
    • ‘It is my intention here to argue that herms, as they appear in modest abundance in sixteenth-century Italian art, were susceptible of many possible interpretations, often simultaneously.’
    • ‘A fragment from the Athenian Agora shows a herm standing in front of a vertical edge, offset in the background, probably indicating the entrance of a sanctuary.’
    column, post, pole, support, upright, vertical, baluster, pier, pile, piling, pilaster, stanchion, standard, prop, buttress
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From the Greek name Hermes.