eter·​nal | \ i-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce eternal (audio) \

Definition of eternal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having infinite duration : everlasting eternal damnation
b : of or relating to eternity
c : characterized by abiding fellowship with God good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? — Mark 10:17 (Revised Standard Version)
2a : continued without intermission : perpetual an eternal flame
b : seemingly endless eternal delays
3 archaic : infernal some eternal villain … devised this slander— William Shakespeare
4 : valid or existing at all times : timeless eternal verities



Definition of eternal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 capitalized : god sense 1 used with the
2 : something eternal

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Other Words from eternal


eternalize \ i-​ˈtər-​nə-​ˌlīz How to pronounce eternalize (audio) \ transitive verb
eternally \ i-​ˈtər-​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce eternally (audio) \ adverb
eternalness noun

Examples of eternal in a Sentence


the eternal flames of hell in search of eternal wisdom When will his eternal whining stop?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Others spoke of eternal life, and the Lord’s wisdom. Zoe Greenberg,, "‘We don’t know the answer’: A community is stunned after BU student is killed," 31 Aug. 2019 This was like a failsafe; if attending mass and Religious Ed classes at home didn’t guarantee eternal life, this would. Katy Hershberger, Longreads, "Losing My Religion at Christian Camp," 8 Aug. 2019 An eternal optimist with an unquenchable joie de vivre, Johnny Murphy, who stood 6 feet 4, rarely went unnoticed. Anne M. Hamilton,, "Extraordinary Life: It was hard to miss Johnny Murphy, a passionate lawyer who embraced Hartford," 14 July 2019 Her family celebrates God's gift of eternal life and Louise's call to the Church Triumphant through the grace of her Lord, Jesus Christ., "Deaths in Central Florida: 7/4," 4 July 2019 With everyone trying to knock him off to uncover the secret to eternal life, V's got a bounty on his head at all times. Brittany Vincent, Popular Mechanics, "On E3’s Final Day, What’s Old Is New Again," 14 June 2019 For all their feverish effort, eternal life remains a distant fantasy. Josh Wilbur, WIRED, "You Could Live Forever With This Sci-Fi Time Hack," 4 June 2019 This is a profound and difficult film, an attempt to grapple with the existence and mindless perpetuation of evil, and to suggest both the fleeting satisfaction and the eternal futility of vengeance. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Nightingale’ is a brilliant, horrifying tale of revenge," 15 Aug. 2019 Rudy’ moment Booker is an eternal optimist who speaks in the phrases of a motivational speaker. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Cory Booker’s college football struggles echo in his presidential campaign," 30 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eternal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of eternal


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for eternal


Middle English, from Middle French, from Late Latin aeternalis, from Latin aeternus eternal, from aevum age, eternity — more at aye

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Statistics for eternal

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for eternal

The first known use of eternal was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for eternal



English Language Learners Definition of eternal

: having no beginning and no end in time : lasting forever
: existing at all times : always true or valid
: seeming to last forever


eter·​nal | \ i-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce eternal (audio) \

Kids Definition of eternal

1 : lasting forever : having no beginning and no end
2 : continuing without interruption : seeming to last forever eternal patience

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More from Merriam-Webster on eternal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with eternal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for eternal

Spanish Central: Translation of eternal

Nglish: Translation of eternal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eternal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on eternal

What made you want to look up eternal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


recurring in steady succession

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