The Meaning of Deus: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of deus? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word deus, including its definition, usage, word origin, examples, and more!

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What does the word deus mean?

According to Dictionary, Collins English Dictionary, and Definitions, the word deus is a classical Latin and Ecclesiastical Latin word for god or deity. The Latin deus and Latin dīvus, meaning divine, are both descended from theProto-Italic and Proto-Indo-European root deiwos meaning celestial or shining. In Late Latin, this term has become used mostly to refer to the Christian God. The feminie form of deus is dea, and these are both nouns referring to a deity. The terms divus and diva are used to refer to other divine figures, such as a divinized emperor. The words deism and deists began to be used in the 17th and 18th centuries. Deus can be used to refer to many different Latin phrases, including deus ex machina, deus absconditus, Deus Ramos, deus vult, ditat deus, nobiscum Deus, quos deus vult perdere prius dementat, sicut patribus sit Deus nobis and others per Merriam-Webster.  

According to Word Sense, there are many different descendents and translations of deus. These are listed below. You may notice that these all look and sound very similar to the word deus. Many of these different languages use words that look and sound similar to the word deus for their words meaning God or the word divine. 

  •  Occitan: dieu
  •  Romanian: zeu, zău
  •  French: dieu
  •  Portuguese: deus
  •  Sicilian: diu
  •  Italian: dio
  •  Catalan: déu
  •  Sardinian: déu
  •  Friulian: diu
  •  Istriot: deo
  •  Spanish: dios
  •  Franco-Provençal: diô
  •  Asturian: dios
  •  Romansch: dieu
  •  Venetian: dio
  •  Galician: deus
  •  Ido: deo

What phrases is the word deus used in?

The word deus is most often used in the term deus ex machina. According to Studio Binder, this term means “a god from a machine.” This term was originally used to refer to the crane that brought actors who were playing gods over the stage in different Greek and Roman plays in technical usage during ancient times. This often happened toward the end so that the God could come in and resolve the situation. In modern-day, deus ex machina refers to when some hopeless situation in a piece of media is suddenly solved by an unexpected occurrence. It can ruin the suspension of disbelief and cause grief to film scholars. This trope can be considered lazy writing, and a device by the creator used to resolve the plot. Today, this may not happen by means of a crane or other tech stage machinery, but by a corny plot device in a work of fiction via an unexpected solution for the protagonist, often by an improbable character. 

Many works by Euripides use this device, like Medea in the chariot of the sun god Helios, Orestes when Apollo orders Orestes to journey to Athens to stand trial in their court with Hermione, Pylades and Electra, Helen when the demi-gods Castor and Polydeuces, who are Helen’s brothers and the sons of Zeus and Leda, appear to intervene with Theoclymenos and Menelaus in Sparta, and Andromache when Thetis the sea goddess appears to Peleus after Artemis vows to destroy any man the jealous Aphrodite loves with vengeful Poseidon and Theseus. according to UVM. Modern films that use the device are listed below.

  •  Avatar
  •  Toy Story
  •  Training Day
  •  The Wizard of Oz (starring Judy Garland)
  •  Harry Potter
  •  Devs (Hulu/FX show starring Alison Pill as Katie, Karl Glusman as Sergei, Sonoya Mizuno as Lily on the Devs team who see Jesus dying on the cross. Title of the show relates to Latin deus ex māchinā)

Oxford Reference states another usage of the term deus, deus absconditus. This term means hidden God, and refers to the apparent absence of God from those who seek him. Deus otiosus refers to an idle god. There are many other Latin phrases that also use the term deus, including Deus Ramos, deus vult meaning God wills it, ditat deus meaning God enriches, nobiscum Deus meaning God is with us, quos deus vult perdere prius dementat meaning those whom a god wishes to destroy he first drives mad, and sicut patribus sit Deus nobis which means may God be to us as to our fathers. 

The word deus is also related to the Greek Zeus. According to Britannica, Zeus was the chief god of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon, and was sometimes written Dyēus. In the Greek and Roman drama, he is the sky and weather god. He is the sender of thunder and lightning, rain, and wind, and his traditional weapon is the thunderbolt. He is considered the father, ruler and protector of gods and men. 

Overall, the word deus means god. This classical Latinword has stemmed many different other words in the romance languages, like the Portuguese deus, Italian dio, Spanish dios, Sardinian déu, French dieu, Sicilian diu, ladino דייו, and Celtic languages like the Welsh duw, Irish dia, Occitan dieu, Sanskrit देव deva, and more. Related words include the feminine dea. Try using this Latin word or one of the phrases that stem from this Latin word in a sentence today. Using words in a sentence is a great way to remember their definition. You can also try to make yourself a quiz or flashcards to remember the definition of this Latin word. 

Sources:

  1. Deus | Definition of Deus | Dictionary.com 
  2. Deus definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  3. Devs Ending & New Title Meaning Explained | Screenrant 
  4. Deus Absconditus | Oxford Reference
  5. Euripides and Deus ex Machina | UVM 
  6. What does DEUS mean? | Definitions 
  7. deus‎ (Portuguese, Latin, Catalan): meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  8. Zeus | Myths, Wife, Children, & Facts | Britannica. 
  9. Previous Post Deus ex Machina — Meaning, Definition & Examples in Movies | Studio Binder 
  10. Deus | Definition of Deus | Merriam-Webster