ethereal

adjective
ethe·​re·​al | \ i-ˈthir-ē-əl How to pronounce ethereal (audio) \

Definition of ethereal

1a : of or relating to the regions beyond the earth
2a : lacking material substance : immaterial, intangible
b : marked by unusual delicacy or refinement this smallest, most ethereal, and daintiest of birds— William Beebe
c : suggesting the heavens or heaven
3 : relating to, containing, or resembling a chemical ether

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Other Words from ethereal

ethereality \ i-​ˌthir-​ē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce ethereality (audio) \ noun
etherealization \ i-​ˌthir-​ē-​ə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce etherealization (audio) \ noun
etherealize \ i-​ˈthir-​ē-​ə-​ˌlīz How to pronounce etherealize (audio) \ transitive verb
ethereally \ i-​ˈthir-​ē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce ethereally (audio) \ adverb
etherealness noun

Did You Know?

If you're burning to know the history of "ethereal," you're in the right spirit to fully understand that word's etymology. The ancient Greeks believed that the Earth was composed of earth, air, fire, and water, but that the heavens and its denizens were made of a purer, less tangible substance known as either "ether" or "quintessence." Ether was often described as an invisible light or fire, and its name derives from the Greek aithein, a verb meaning "to ignite" or "to blaze." When "ethereal," the adjective kin of "ether," debuted in English in the 1500s, it referred specifically to regions beyond the Earth, but it gradually came to refer to anything heavenly or airy.

Examples of ethereal in a Sentence

The windows give the church an ethereal glow. that ethereal attribute that every performer should have—charisma

Recent Examples on the Web

Growing up, Free People's ethereal-bohemian-wanderlust-manic-pixie-girl vibe really struck a cord with me. Tara Gonzalez, Glamour, "I Never Wear Leggings Out of the Gym—but I'd Make An Exception For These," 18 May 2019 Strange and beautiful, the book works thanks to the enigmatic power of Nahid Kazemi’s illustrations, which have an abundance of tiny details rendered with such colorful delicacy that the overall sense from page to page is of ethereal softness. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: The Travails and Triumphs of Derring-Do," 22 Feb. 2019 Kanye West embarked on an art pilgrimage last month to the ethereal, glowing light installations of artist James Turrell. Kelly Crow, WSJ, "Kanye West Donates $10 Million to Art Project," 14 Jan. 2019 Now, Universal Standard is helping transform the super high-end, super-ethereal, super-exclusive aesthetic normally reserved for those with red carpet access (or very deep pockets). Glamour, "The Brand Known for Wowing on the Red Carpet is Releasing a Collection in Sizes 00 Through 40 and Under $250," 9 Apr. 2019 Eagle eye royal fans on Twitter quickly noted that Kate also wore a pair of pearl and diamond earrings that once belonged to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana to complete her ethereal look. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Wore Princess Diana's Pearl and Diamond Earrings to the BAFTAs," 11 Feb. 2019 The merger of the ethereal fabric and tattoo culture was an appropriate maneuver, given that Parsons was aiming for a look that was sophisticated, but subtly tough. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "These Delicate Lace Tattoos on the Dion Lee Runway Looked So Real, They Were Mistaken for Fabric," 9 Sep. 2018 From the equal parts ethereal and hyper-futuristic clothes to the idiosyncratic cat-eye designs and powerful pouts, Risso’s show stoked both the romance of the past and wild imagination of the future with a distinctly bold confidence. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Extreme Cat-Eyes! Iconic Red Lips! Marni’s Retro-Futurist Beauty Is a Runway Win," 23 Sep. 2018 The entire vibe of the line is earth-y gorgeous, plus a little ethereal. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "I Own 38 Burgundy Lipsticks but Nothing Beats This One," 10 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ethereal.' 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 ethereal

1522, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for ethereal

Last Updated

5 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ethereal

The first known use of ethereal was in 1522

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More Definitions for ethereal

ethereal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ethereal

formal
: in heaven
: resembling heaven : seeming to belong to another world
: very delicate

ethereal

adjective
ethe·​re·​al | \ i-ˈthir-ē-əl How to pronounce ethereal (audio) \

Kids Definition of ethereal

1 : suggesting heaven or the heavens ethereal music
2 : very delicate : airy

ethereal

adjective
ethe·​re·​al | \ i-ˈthir-ē-əl How to pronounce ethereal (audio) \

Medical Definition of ethereal

: relating to, containing, or resembling a chemical ether

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More from Merriam-Webster on ethereal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ethereal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ethereal

Spanish Central: Translation of ethereal

Nglish: Translation of ethereal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ethereal for Arabic Speakers

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