Definition of ethereal
2a : lacking material substance : immaterial, intangibleb : marked by unusual delicacy or refinement this smallest, most ethereal, and daintiest of birds — William Beebec : suggesting the heavens or heaven
3 : relating to, containing, or resembling a chemical ether
etherealityplay \i-ˌthir-ē-ˈa-lə-tē\ noun
etherealizationplay \i-ˌthir-ē-ə-lə-ˈzā-shən\ noun
etherealizeplay \i-ˈthir-ē-ə-ˌlīz\ transitive verb
ethereallyplay \i-ˈthir-ē-ə-lē\ adverb
ethereal was our Word of the Day on 12/19/2011. Hear the podcast!
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 of ethereal from the Web
Using early photographic techniques, Atkins portrayed the aquatic organisms as ethereal tufts and tendrils floating over vibrant blue backgrounds.
Mr. Lewiston recorded the ethereal percussive sounds of the traditional Balinese ensembles known as gamelans.
Like all the works here, this one splits the difference between the tangible and the ethereal.
How else to describe the delightfully ethereal and refreshingly modest silhouettes that brought Cannes to a close?
Ratner stirs feeling — sorrow, sympathy, pleasure — through language so ethereal in the face of dislocation and loss that its beauty can only be described as stubborn.
Pandora glows at night Pandora will equally astound guests at night when its bioluminescent plants bathe the land in an ethereal glow.
Stand a colossal marble head by Florentine artist Baccio Bandinelli next to an ethereal Korean scroll of water buffaloes in ink washes on delicate silk.
From the ethereal beauty of the nightingale's heartfelt song, to a toy sailor's goofy arrival in court via balloon, to a chilling sequence in which Death tends his garden, this production is a visual treasure.
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.
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.
First Known Use of ethereal
ETHEREAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ethereal for English Language Learners
: in heaven
: resembling heaven : seeming to belong to another world
: very delicate
ETHEREAL Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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