ethereal

adjective

ethe·​re·​al i-ˈthir-ē-əl How to pronounce ethereal (audio)
1
a
: of or relating to the regions beyond the earth
2
a
: lacking material substance : immaterial, intangible
b
: marked by unusual delicacy or refinement
this smallest, most ethereal, and daintiest of birdsWilliam Beebe
c
: suggesting the heavens or heaven
3
: relating to, containing, or resembling a chemical ether
ethereality noun
etherealization noun
etherealize transitive verb
ethereally 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 the 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 (in English transliteration) as either quintessence or ether. Ether was often described as an invisible light or fire; its name comes from the Greek verb aithein, meaning "to ignite" or "to blaze." When ethereal, the adjectival kin of ether, debuted in English in the 1500s, it described regions beyond the Earth or anything that seemed to originate from them.

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 younger sibling of the brand's iconic scent N°5, which came out in 1921, Coco Mademoiselle takes a more ethereal, youthful, floral-forward stance that is no less traffic-stoppingly memorable. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 10 July 2024 Baby’s Breath Crown A short Afro adorned with a baby’s breath crown makes for an ethereal bridal hairstyle. Annie Blay, Allure, 9 July 2024 Processions pass through the streets and into cemeteries while the ethereal glow of hundreds and hundreds of candles lights the entire town. Meagan Drillinger, Travel + Leisure, 9 July 2024 The effect was ethereal, with the glow of the candlelight dancing on the historied walls of the Villa Tasca. Rebecca Cope, Vogue, 26 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for ethereal 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ethereal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1522, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of ethereal was in 1522

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Dictionary Entries Near ethereal

Cite this Entry

“Ethereal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethereal. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

ethereal

adjective
ethe·​re·​al i-ˈthir-ē-əl How to pronounce ethereal (audio)
1
: of or relating to the heavens : heavenly
2
: being light and airy : delicate
ethereally adverb
etherealness noun

Medical Definition

ethereal

adjective
ethe·​re·​al i-ˈthir-ē-əl How to pronounce ethereal (audio)
: relating to, containing, or resembling a chemical ether

More from Merriam-Webster on ethereal

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