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

Other Words from eternal


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

Examples of eternal in a Sentence

Adjective the eternal flames of hell in search of eternal wisdom When will his eternal whining stop?
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Faraday was an eternal optimist, rightly so given his two-century track record. Andy Kessler, WSJ, 18 Sep. 2022 In it, Midler, 76, returns alongside Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as witches hungry to suck the souls out of the children of Salem, Massachusetts, to achieve their eternal youth. Nicholas Rice,, 16 July 2022 But more than the guarantee of eternal life, Galadriel wants to protect Middle-earth, which compels her to turn back at the very last second. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 2 Sep. 2022 In the second letter from Paul to Timothy in the Bible, Paul speaks of the long path riddled with hardships one takes to secure eternal life. Rachel Fradette, The Indianapolis Star, 27 Aug. 2022 The eternal struggle between our baser instincts and a desire to keep pushing forward, both culturally and technologically remains the beating thematic heart of Weiner’s impressive undertaking. Josh Weiss, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 Since ancient times, the idea of eternal life has captivated the human imagination. Katie Hunt, CNN, 6 Aug. 2022 As an eternal optimist, Karakowsky likes to encourage his team to under promise and over deliver in order to set correct expectations. Jason Bisnoff, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 Under her name, only her birth date is written, a seemingly an intentional gesture towards eternal life. Jenna Kunze, ELLE, 28 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun These ancient seas and islands offer some reassuring glimpse of the eternal. Stanley Stewart, Travel + Leisure, 24 Apr. 2022 Youth, like hope, seemingly springs eternal at the dawn of a new season. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2022 But hope springs eternal, maybe more so in baseball than anywhere else. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Apr. 2022 More significantly, if life eternal is to know the only true God, as John 17:3 states, is their salvation at stake? The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Mar. 2022 Hope wasn’t given much of a chance to spring eternal on Monday for the Diamondbacks. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 14 Mar. 2022 Hope springs eternal, though, as the two never confirmed their breakup with an official statement. Los Angeles Times, 22 Feb. 2022 Hope for the success of the alien apocalypse springs eternal. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, 22 Oct. 2021 But just like every team in the NFL, hope springs eternal in Week 1. David Moore, Dallas News, 9 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for eternal

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near eternal



eternal flame

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Statistics for eternal

Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Eternal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for eternal


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

More from Merriam-Webster on eternal

Nglish: Translation of eternal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eternal for Arabic Speakers


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