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

In the 1960s, Japanese fiber artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam was captivated by form and space, creating ethereal museum and gallery installations in black and white that caught light and shadow. San Diego Union-Tribune, "11 things to do in San Diego this weekend: Cooper Family Juneteenth Celebration, Smokey Robinson, New Children’s Museum’s ‘Whammock!’," 14 June 2019 Explore the ethereal Caledonian Forest, one of the oldest and wildest woods in Scotland; and hike through sweeping scenery, from the Cairngorms to the Isle of Skye and spectacular Glen Coe. National Geographic, "Scotland Private Expedition," 12 June 2019 Our jam: Petal & Pod ($4), an ethereal nitro cold brew with cardamom and rose water. Jackie Burrell, The Mercury News, "6 best new, eclectic Bay Area coffee houses," 8 June 2019 Some of the holographic acts replicate traditional circus fare, like the performing elephant and an ethereal ring of horses that gallops around the big top. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A German Circus Uses Stunning Holograms Instead of Live Animal Performers," 7 June 2019 Natalie Mering, is kind of an indie darling who’s known for ethereal, ‘70s-evoking songwriting and literary and cultural allusions. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Sound On: The Best Music of April 2019," 1 May 2019 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

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

19 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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