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?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In the general authority leadership session at the October 2019 General Conference, [Dallin H.] Oaks [of the governing First Presidency] made a statement that eternal gender is the gender of birth. The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Nov. 2021 The eternal popularity of Morrison and Dateline has created a sort of ouroboros of true-crime media that’s grown to include podcasts that recap the show, like A Date with Dateline and the occasional True Crime Obsessed. Vulture Editors, Vulture, 20 Nov. 2021 Misho has never subscribed to extensive collections or seasons, and the pandemic reinforced this need for eternal design. Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2021 Zachary cites Issey Miyake’s signature pleats as an eternal source of inspiration. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, 16 Nov. 2021 Over the last year and a half, the rural, agricultural San Joaquin Valley has been a perpetual hot spot for the virus — the land of the eternal COVID-19 surge. Hailey Branson-potts, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Nov. 2021 Over the last year and a half, the rural, agricultural San Joaquin Valley has been a perpetual hot spot for the virus — the land of the eternal COVID-19 surge. Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2021 Obviously, this album is touched by the downtime of Covid, but its sense of wonder and worry, bored longing and faint hope, is utterly eternal. Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone, 11 Nov. 2021 The main issue seems to be players simply running out of stuff to do at higher levels, where the game is reduced to ultra-RNG farming for items and high crafting costs, or the eternal merry-go-round of PvP territory exchange. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 8 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 His eternal cant of smug victimhood — the one sane man in a sea of ignorance, rejected by his own community and harassed by the mainstream media — was more believable when Richard Nixon was doing it. Los Angeles Times, 27 Aug. 2021 Hope springs eternal for the Tigers because of the prospects in their minor league system. Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, 17 May 2021 Green shoots of hope reign eternal for both seagrass and sea cow, among those who study and love them most. Jim Waymer, USA TODAY, 8 May 2021 Hope springs eternal for Elmer Fudd come rabbit season! Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021 Like last March, frustration has grown in the absence of any resolution, but for Turell, the team, and its supporters, their faith is more cemented in the eternal. Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2021 Because of that, and because many of these species live in hard-to-survey regions, many of the announcements this past year declared species possibly or probably lost, a sign that hope springs eternal. John R. Platt, Scientific American, 13 Jan. 2021

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

Learn More About eternal

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

23 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Eternal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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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

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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