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 The structure’s soaring cathedral-like ceiling and large barn doors on both sides further invite nature to swirl through the elegant, ethereal structure. Lauren Helmer, al, "This Alabama wedding venue is set on 864 acres of land," 10 Feb. 2020 In addition, the Prius Prime feels ethereal in its responses, delivering performance without a scintilla of feel or emotion. cleveland, "2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid delivers the Prius’ exceptional fuel efficiency without the oddball styling (review)," 8 Feb. 2020 Who can say no to an ethereal Ulla Johnson dress at 50% off? Amanda Randone,, "Shopbop’s Major 70% Off Sale Is Filled With Designer Finds," 4 Feb. 2020 The sculptures were crafted by Dali, the Spanish surrealist artist known for his ethereal renderings and abstract designs. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Thieves make off with about a dozen valuable Dali sculptures in gallery heist," 30 Jan. 2020 Celeste Ng’s ethereal, heartbreaking novel about a family adrift. oregonlive, "Multnomah County Library users love ebooks, audiobooks; Oregon’s 2020 Pacific Northwest Book Award winner; 2 new books about sports history," 24 Jan. 2020 Anthropologie Tag Sale Anthropologie's sale section is like a treasure trove of bohemian, ethereal styles that are actually affordable. Isabelle Kagan, USA TODAY, "10 amazing sales to shop this weekend at Wayfair, L.L. Bean, and more," 10 Jan. 2020 Of course, that mix of genres doesn't take into account the way Jon Mess' unhinged howls of terror are offset by soaring ethereal vocals from Tilian Pearson. Ed Masley, azcentral, "Here's your guide to the best concerts in metro Phoenix this winter," 21 Dec. 2019 Dawson also reflects on the structure of the song, which marks a shift in her sound toward the more ethereal. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Desirée Dawson Is Letting Her Lover Know She's 'All In' on Haunting New Single," 22 Nov. 2019

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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The first known use of ethereal was in 1522

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ethereal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for ethereal


How to pronounce ethereal (audio)

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 How to pronounce ethereal (audio) \

Kids Definition of ethereal

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


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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