ethe·re·al | \i-ˈthir-ē-əl \

Definition of ethereal 

1a : of or relating to the regions beyond the earth

b : celestial, heavenly

c : unworldly, spiritual

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 \ noun
etherealization \i-ˌthir-ē-ə-lə-ˈzā-shən \ noun
etherealize \i-ˈthir-ē-ə-ˌlīz \ transitive verb
ethereally \i-ˈthir-ē-ə-lē \ 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

Wedding planners Medium Rare and Concrete+Water transformed the 30,000-square-foot industrial space into an ethereal and romantic setting, replete with floor-to-ceiling drapes and blooming cherry blossom branches on the tables. Alexis Cheung, New York Times, "They Were in Love. They Were the Last to Know.," 25 May 2018 With a harmonica, Curran summoned up something more ethereal. Mark Swed,, "The extravagance of gabble: At the Other Minds Festival, sound poets find their own beat," 12 Apr. 2018 His own newer, introspective paintings, blending figuration with ethereal elements, are there as well. Brett Sokol, New York Times, "Lee Quiñones Brings Street Art to His Living Room," 10 July 2018 Gomez wears dark ethereal lace, blends leather and shearling with romantic ruffles, and sports a studded choker alongside a fringed, embroidered bag. Sofia Mele, Billboard, "Selena Gomez Stars in Gorgeous Coach Campaign for Fall 2018," 2 July 2018 Florence + the Machine once again bestows on listeners a gift of an album, full of ethereal sentiments and her mesmerizing voice. Raisa Bruner, Time, "5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week," 29 June 2018 Though both the dress and jumpsuit made Cuoco look ethereal, only one of the looks survived the night in pristine condition. Karen Mizoguchi,, "Kaley Cuoco Reveals There's Still Ketchup on Her Wedding Jumpsuit - and More Bridal Wardrobe Scoop!," 12 July 2018 Arches have been typically associated with weighty conquest—recall the Arc de Triomphe—but this one is ethereal, otherworldly. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "A New Gateway to the West," 2 July 2018 Hailey Baldwin’s Met Gala after party look on Monday night was just as ethereal as her red carpet dress, but a little more after-hours friendly. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Hailey Baldwin Attended Met Gala 2018 After Party with Shawn Mendes In A Slip," 10 May 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

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ethereal

The first known use of ethereal was in 1522

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More Definitions for ethereal



English Language Learners Definition of ethereal

: in heaven

: resembling heaven : seeming to belong to another world

: very delicate


ethe·re·al | \i-ˈthir-ē-əl \

Kids Definition of ethereal

1 : suggesting heaven or the heavens ethereal music

2 : very delicate : airy


ethe·re·al | \i-ˈthir-ē-əl \

Medical Definition of ethereal 

: relating to, containing, or resembling a chemical ether

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