The science or art of → interpretation. Originally the term was limited to the interpretation of the Scriptures, but since the nineteenth century it has developed into a general theory of human understanding through the work of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), and others. The comprehension of any written text requires hermeneutics. Many different hermeneutic theorists have proposed many different methodologies.
From Gk. hermeneutikos "interpreting," from hermeneutes "interpreter," from hermeneuein "to interpret," of unknown origin. It was formerly thought to derive from Hermes, the tutelary divinity of speech, writing, and eloquence.