an·​gel ˈān-jəl How to pronounce angel (audio)
plural angels
religion : a spiritual being serving as a divine messenger and intermediary and often as a special protector of an individual or nation
especially : one in the lowest rank in the celestial hierarchy see also guardian angel
angels plural, religion : an order of angels see celestial hierarchy
: an attendant usually benevolent spirit or guardian
often used without implication of belief in its supernatural character
"A putting angel must have come to me during the night because I felt great today and every putt I hit was a great putt," he [Paul McGinley] said.Nelson Clare
: the part of a person's character or nature that is said to guide the person's thoughts and behavior
… here was [Lyndon] Johnson charging straight at a problem, telling his fellow citizens an ugly truth about themselves while trying to invoke the better angels of their nature.Kevin Baker
[Lamar] Alexander concluded: "In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln appealed to the better angels of our nature. If there are better angels of our nature, I guess that means there must be worse angels in us as well. …"Congressional Documents and Publications
: a usually white-robed winged figure of human form in fine art see also snow angel
: messenger, harbinger
an angel of death
The dear good angel of the Spring, / The nightingale.Ben Jonson
: a person who is like an angel (as in looks or behavior)
Your toddler is such an angel.
Be an angel and get me a cup of tea, would you?
Childs is no angel either, and that gives his book its drama.George Johnson
Christian Science : inspiration from God
: one who aids or supports with money or influence
Angels are considered one of the oldest sources of capital for start-up entrepreneurs; the term itself, by most accounts, comes from the affluent patrons who used to finance Broadway plays in the early twentieth century.Colleen Debaise
Typically, angel investors put up anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to back a young start-up, and can fund as many as 10 companies at any given time.Michael B. Farrell

Examples of angel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To finish the project off, opt for a tree topper that fits your woodland theme, like rustic stars, oversized pinecones, or charming wooden angels for a natural finish. Christianna Silva, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Nov. 2023 The giant wreaths hanging over Union Station are up and aglow, electrifying the air and signaling a shift into a season that should appeal to our better angels. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2023 Luckily, an angel visits him that night and shows him what the world would look like if he’d never been born — ultimately showing him how important his life is. Keith Langston, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 The trees, which will be on display until Dec. 31, included decorations fitting for their causes, and not the typical ornaments depicting images related to Jesus, angels or the Christmas holiday. Brandon Gillespie, Fox News, 23 Nov. 2023 Eve reclines nude under a tree while holding an apple, observed by angels overhead. Teresa Nowakowski, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Nov. 2023 In some ways, that solution makes sense; Victoria’s Secret angels represented an unattainable level of beauty to aspire to, but returning to the old fashion show may only lead back to the original problem—women strutting down a stage in lingerie to please men. Paige Hagy, Fortune, 4 Nov. 2023 Much like green bean casserole and angel biscuits, scalloped potatoes belong on Southern dinner tables at almost any occasion. Liv Dansky, Southern Living, 12 Nov. 2023 The package additionally showed an angel, a windmill and an eye on a box. Dana Rose Falcone, Peoplemag, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'angel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English engel & Anglo-French angele; both from Late Latin angelus, from Greek angelos, literally, messenger

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of angel was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near angel

Cite this Entry

“Angel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


an·​gel ˈān-jəl How to pronounce angel (audio)
: a spiritual being serving God especially as a messenger or as a guardian of human beings
: messenger, harbinger
angel of death
: a person as pure, lovely, or good as an angel
angelic adjective
or angelical
angelically adverb

Middle English angel "spiritual being," from Old English engel and early French angele (both, same meaning), derived from Greek angelos "messenger"

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