Definition of Olympian in US English:



  • 1Associated with Mount Olympus in northeastern Greece, or with the Greek gods whose home was traditionally held to be there.

    • ‘It is as though the Olympian order had thrust the great Mother Goddesses of olden time into the background for the sole purpose of throwing the divine Korai into sharper relief.’
    • ‘At one end of the spectrum were the official cults of the emperor and the Capitoline Triad: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, linked to other Olympian gods like Mars.’
    • ‘The three brothers became the blacksmiths of the Olympian gods, creating Zeus' thunderbolts, Poseidon's trident.’
    • ‘The twelve Titans, children of Uranus and Gê, were the group of gods immediately preceding the Olympian gods in Greek mythology.’
    • ‘The Olympian gods and goddesses in Greek and Roman mythology, on the other hand, do represent a static binary, and it is this false parallel regarding how the binaries function that Waldman contrasts.’
    • ‘That Olympian goddesses could be brought down to such a base level is just the kind of thing that Eris might find amusing.’
    • ‘The names come from two Olympian gods - Phevos, the Olympian god of light and music, also known as Apollo, and Athena - goddess of wisdom and patron of the city of Athens.’
    • ‘Rather than go down in honor, this half-god Prometheus, in order to avoid further violence, had chosen to desert over to the Olympian forces.’
    • ‘Zeus is the god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods.’
    • ‘Finally, just 7 kilometres away at the far end of the bay stood the mighty Greek temple to Hera, queen of the Olympian gods, sister and jealous wife of Zeus.’
    • ‘Further evidence for his radical theology lies in his appropriation of the names of the Olympian gods for his roots of matter and his cosmic forces.’
    • ‘These personal advisers were the alleged well-spring of Olympian justice, as Zeus meted out punishment with the same reckless abandon that he exercised in chasing his paramours.’
    • ‘This challenged the accepted view of the stars as dead heroes placed in the firmament by the Olympian gods.’
    • ‘They find their laughter as sweet as nature's own elixir and their round, cherubic faces like heaping helpings of Olympian ambrosia.’
    • ‘Athena, Apollo or Dionysus and the other Olympian deities were honoured all over Greece and with rituals specific to each city according to the particular emphasis of their cults.’
    • ‘Hecate was not an Olympian god but belonged to popular folk religion.’
    • ‘The peplos of ritual is the aegis of myth, Athena's impenetrable armour won in the battle of the Giants, those older, monstrous forces of chaos who threatened the orderly and just government of the Olympian gods.’
    • ‘I read in my book that in ancient Greece ivy was sacred to Dionysus, the Olympian vintner who was one of the gods.’
    • ‘But he gains in confidence, building up to the Olympian ending as Apollo accepts his destiny, watched by the women who nurtured him.’
    • ‘Imagine, if you will, that Achilles was dipped into the Olympian water of invulnerability by a god who dangled him from not from his heel but from his elbow and knee, which had been hog-tied together for the purpose.’
    1. 1.1 Resembling or appropriate to a god, especially in superiority and aloofness.
      ‘the court is capable of an Olympian detachment’
      • ‘As importantly, it reminded its readers that humans are animals, sharing in the redness of tooth and claw, and therefore not superior beings who can afford to view the animal kingdom with Olympian detachment.’
      • ‘What's surprising is how often judges - including many with Olympian reputations - have sounded off about legal questions and controversies.’
      • ‘He cultivated an image of Olympian detachment by scrupulously protecting the respective ranks and dignities of the grandees.’
      • ‘Ordinarily, of course, like every professional opinion-peddler, I approach all issues from a perspective of utter Olympian detachment.’
      • ‘Do the network news anchors of the big broadcast networks have to be Olympian figures?’
      • ‘What's interesting is that this big solid newspaper office has this lone outpost of the Service Economy Stratum, an embassy of the economic world we write about with Olympian detachment.’
      • ‘Although the police received many complaints of fraud in the run-up to the election, their ‘attitude… could at the kindest be described as one of Olympian detachment’.’
      • ‘His Olympian incorruptibility never rings true.’
      • ‘Indeed, there is something willful and maddening in their tone of Olympian detachment.’
      • ‘What's called for instead is an end to the myth of Olympian objectivity in the press.’
      • ‘They add with almost Olympian detachment that there ‘was some increase [in accidents] but not much since Railtrack was sold off in 1996’.’
      • ‘The Greeks could hold I think, opposite things together, usually at one end of their temples there was a statue of great Olympian calm, at the other of dark carnal struggle.’
      • ‘Ministers can return a little more to Olympian detachment, coming down only for serious interviews, election campaigns and the like.’
      • ‘They regard an Olympian detachment from the concerns of most unionists as a mark of non-sectarian virtue and are happy for company in the wilderness.’
      • ‘When you're a kid, you imagine people on TV as Olympian figures.’
      • ‘Simmons' writing is distinguished not by its Olympian distance from sports but by its almost tender intimacy.’
      • ‘The programme concluded with Mozart's Symphony No. 41, the socalled Jupiter symphony, whose Olympian grandeur justifies its name.’
      • ‘Indeed, the regulation should be extended to protect all jobs for which Olympian detachment from reality is an essential requirement.’
      • ‘But, outside that charmed circle, we might observe that, although Wolfe speaks from an Olympian distance, it is hard to think of this as a mature view of the world.’
      • ‘Justices are sometimes praised for ruling with Olympian detachment.’
      aloof, distant, remote, stand-offish, unfriendly, unamiable, unaffable, uncongenial, unneighbourly, inhospitable, reclusive, solitary, misanthropic, uncommunicative, unforthcoming, reticent, withdrawn, cold, cool, chilly
      View synonyms
  • 2attributive Relating to the ancient or modern Olympic Games.

    • ‘It was just like my paintings: convex, present, just like those Olympian gymnasts.’
    • ‘Making an entrance befitting any Olympian athlete, Frances arrived in Emily Square in an open top vintage car, accompanied by her chauffeur for the night.’
    • ‘So for any of those children born yesterday in Britain - the anticipated number is 1,800-can expect a track and field day out of Olympian magic.’
    • ‘These are still early days for dress rehearsals, but this week's world rowing championships have already assumed an Olympian scale.’
    • ‘Thus the locals put behind the disappointment of not able to witness the Olympian medallist in action.’
    • ‘Guest of honour on the night was the twice Olympian athlete, a race-walker who travelled all the way from Cork for the occasion.’
    • ‘The German wife of the Australian Olympian has won two gold medals in the Olympian equestrian competition.’
    • ‘In fact, she's a prodigal vocalist and junior Olympian gymnast, with a genius IQ.’
    • ‘We've got the scoop on an Olympian edition of The Sports Factor.’
    • ‘Baseball might be right up with pentathlon and synchronised swimming among sports of dubious Olympian pedigree.’
    • ‘Special Olympian athletes from the Westport electoral area have been congratulated by members of the Westport Electoral Area Committee on their achievements.’
    • ‘Lavish donations outside Palestine established Herod as a benefactor on an empire-wide scale, as well as a flamboyant philhellene; the Olympian games and the city of Athens were among the beneficiaries.’
    • ‘The SHU is hosting an Olympian lunch at Peffermill to celebrate Scotland's former Olympic hockey players and coincide with the Finals.’
    • ‘It was a send-off befitting any Olympian athlete.’


  • 1Any of the twelve Greek gods regarded as living on Olympus.

    • ‘Greek Artemis, when she ‘fled to Egypt’ along with the rest of the Olympians, assumed the features of the cat-headed Bast.’
    • ‘They survived the war between the Titans and the Olympians and became servants of Zeus.’
    • ‘A conflict of interest among the gods could lead to something similar to the war between the Olympians and the Titans.’
    • ‘Prometheus was a god from the old order, the Titans, who had now all been overthrown by a group of young upstarts, the Olympians - all, that is, except for Prometheus.’
    • ‘The Olympians - the mythical Greek Gods - were almost like a fantasy family firm of mobsters.’
    • ‘In Boucher, Olympians, dryads and shepherdesses are interchangeable.’
    • ‘There is so much history bouncing off the hills above Lake Schinias that even giant Olympians are reduced to mere mortals.’
    • ‘The Olympians defeated the Titans in a battle - the Titanomachy.’
    • ‘Not only that, but depending on who you ask, Aphrodite isn't really an Olympian.’
    • ‘Athena, intending to entertain the Olympians by playing the flute is mocked by the gods and retreats to Mount Ida to play alone.’
    • ‘It is certainly possible that behind the rebellious Titan of Aeschylus there lurks an early Greek or Indo-European divinity, a benevolent demiurge, whom the Olympians supplanted.’
    • ‘In spite of being all-powerful, the Olympians weren't too savvy when it came to social functions.’
    • ‘Who has thought to listen to the heart and mind of the Kore's Father, Zeus King of the Olympians?’
    • ‘Besides the twelve Olympians, Demeter and Dionysios, the gods of wheat and wine, have a significant impact on the daily lives of mortals.’
    • ‘It's pretty much my own personal mythology ‘what if’ scenario, where the Olympians wake up one day and realize their children have usurped control of the collective unconscious.’
    • ‘The Twelve Olympians, in Greek mythology, were the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus.’
    • ‘This way, so Zeus believed, the king of the Olympians could deny the charge of infidelity leveled at him by his spiteful and jealous wife, Hera.’
    • ‘In consequence, the Olympians are a superhuman but disreputable warband: no place for an intellectual!’
    • ‘Polyphemus is one of the Cyclopes, and one of the only creatures born before the Titans, who was not killed by the Olympians.’
    • ‘The disposition of Olympians apparently follows genealogical principles, perhaps derived from allegorical interpretations of Homer and Hesiod developed by Crates of Mallus, a scholar resident at the Attalid court.’
    1. 1.1 A person of great attainments or exalted position.
      • ‘These men represent the Olympians of black business, having employed tens of thousands, achieved major milestones in commerce, and broken barriers for legions of African Americans.’
      • ‘As usual, Oliver is Olympian, measured, full of historical references, lovely style.’
      great, hero, olympian
      View synonyms
  • 2A competitor in the Olympic Games.

    • ‘Unlike able Olympians who are fêted with sponsorships from the corporate sector and promises of financial rewards if they win gold, Paralympians have to depend on their families and friends for financial support.’
    • ‘In Los Angeles, one of the torch-bearers was 95-year-old Peter Clentzos, the oldest living Greek Olympian.’
    • ‘Each of the 110 first-quarter Olympians got a handsome, high-end quadrant (echoing the Citibank logo) with their name etched upon it.’
    • ‘We are fighting to support our Olympians and every Junior Olympian who came to Louisville this weekend.’
    • ‘He, an Olympian himself, initially supported Australia sending a team, but later, shifted from that position.’
    • ‘Certainly, the few hundred club runners participating in the event didn't know they had a future Olympian lining up alongside them.’
    • ‘Community Outreach Programs conducts the Rings of Gold nomination and award process as a way for Olympians to recognize the important individuals and organizations involved in their careers.’
    • ‘As an Olympian I know how special it is to earn the honor of representing the USA.’
    • ‘The team is a mix of age and experience with three newcomers and three experienced Olympians, all of whom have demonstrated their ability to medal in Athens.’
    • ‘This one was sealed by another of the United States’ returning Olympians.’
    • ‘The Fan Fest will be a chance to meet and greet present day Olympians, past Olympians and past Olympic Coaches in the 90 minutes before the start of each session.’
    • ‘In ‘The Inside Edge’, the Olympians pass on their best training, nutritional and motivational tips.’
    • ‘He was a two-time Olympian, placing fourth in the 1964 Olympic Games.’
    • ‘Aside from their astounding physical prowess, it is the Olympians ' mental muscles - and how they flex them - that really sets them apart from everyday athletes.’
    • ‘The U.S. women have seven Olympians on its roster, along with a solid set of not-so-newcomers who played a vital role in securing that Olympic berth and World Champ title over the summer.’
    • ‘After a low-key arrival at the Johannesburg International Airport, the Olympians were loaded onto a convoy of buses for a ticker-tape parade through Greater Johannesburg Metro.’
    • ‘He reasoned, correctly, that to achieve his ambition of becoming an Olympian he would have to find an obscure sport in which there was a dearth of competitors.’
    • ‘Participating Olympians then join the stage and share their own personal experiences to motivate and inspire the audience, while health professionals lend credibility to their wellness message.’
    • ‘As kids are growing up, especially those who aspire to be Olympians, what are they seeing?’
    • ‘The mother of the Olympian said she was very proud of Gabriel.’


Late 15th century: Olympian (sense 1 of the adjective) from Latin Olympus (see Olympus) + -ian; Olympian (sense 2 of the adjective) from Olympia (see Olympia) + -an.