c. 1300, Messias, a designation of Jesus as the savior of the world, from Late Latin Messias, from Greek Messias, from Aramaic (Semitic) meshiha and Hebrew mashiah "the anointed" (of the Lord), from mashah "anoint." It is thus the Hebrew equivalent of Christ, and it is the word rendered in Septuagint as Greek Khristos (see Christ).
In Old Testament prophetic writing, it was used as a descriptive title of an expected deliverer of the Jewish nation. The modern English form represents an attempt to make the word look more Hebrew, and dates from the Geneva Bible (1560). Transferred sense of "an expected liberator or savior of a captive people" is attested from 1660s. Related: Messiahship "the character, state, or office of Jesus Christ as savior of the world" (1620s).
updated on December 31, 2018