euhemerism: the doctrine that polytheistic mythology arose from the deification of dead heroes; the system of mythological interpretation which regards myths as based on real people and events.
euhemerize: to believe in or practice euhemerism
Just came across this word in the ol' dictionary; a huge plus of hard copy dictionaries over the online variety is the serendipitous vocab exercise one experiences by leafing through the pages. Anyway, I wanted to write it down in hopes of retaining the meaning in me noggin. Feel free to sprinkle it in your own conversation to spice things up a bit at the water cooler.