eter·​nal | \ i-ˈtər-nᵊl \

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 \ transitive verb
eternally \ i-​ˈtər-​nᵊl-​ē \ 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

Threats of eternal damnation were not uncommon, the grand jury found. Mark Scolforo, Fox News, "Prosecutor: Priests 'weaponized' the faith to abuse kids," 16 Aug. 2018 Commentators were quick to note that Mr. Scalfari’s report was inconsistent with earlier statements by Pope Francis, who, for instance, has warned unrepentant Mafiosi of eternal damnation. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "‘There Is No Hell’: An Untraditional Pope, an Italian Journalist and the Quote Igniting Controversy," 30 Mar. 2018 When Mephistopheles threatens her with eternal damnation, the curse is always played bombastically. John Von Rhein,, "Satan's minion returns to Lyric Opera in a bold new staging of 'Faust'," 27 Feb. 2018 All that now remained was the abyss, a long headlong fall into social exile, irrelevance, and eternal damnation. Andrew Morton, Town & Country, "Wallis Simpson and the Aftermath of the Abdication," 13 Feb. 2018 It’s, like, my job here, man. Bosma’s ticket to eternal damnation already is punched. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "Checking in on America's Newest State, Foxconnsin," 8 Feb. 2018 Each is surprised that eternal damnation is like this. Josephine Livingstone, New Republic, "Welcome to Hell," 12 Jan. 2018 Besides eternal damnation, the enchantress gave the Beast a magic traveling book—and a completely unnecessary plot point. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "129 Thoughts You'll Have Watching the 'Beauty and the Beast' Remake," 17 Mar. 2017 But the broadcaster did manage to secure one legitimately impressive piece of content for its inaugural day of service: an exclusive 8K version of Stanley Kubrick’s eternal classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sam Byford, The Verge, "2001: A Space Odyssey’s 8K TV broadcast doesn’t quite go beyond the infinite," 3 Dec. 2018

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

3 Jan 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 \

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

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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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