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 his time, Baudelaire’s response was an ethereal one. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "It Doesn’t Matter If Anyone Exists or Not," 24 Feb. 2020 The shine came courtesy of multidisciplinary artist Julien d'Ys, who doused each girl in glitter and streaks of paint in a display that was equal parts dramatic and ethereal. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "At Marni, Glitter-Bombed Beauty Is a Milan Fashion Week Mic Drop," 21 Feb. 2020 The ethereal absurdity of sports filled the air in Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium on Wednesday night with Birmingham City FC up 1-0 late in the match. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, "Soccer fans in England take Birmingham-Memphis rivalry international," 12 Feb. 2020 For structures that could rise to more than 30 feet and whose weight was measured in tons, Ms. Pepper’s sculptures possessed an unexpected ethereal quality. Margalit Fox, BostonGlobe.com, "Beverly Pepper, sculptor of monumental lightness," 10 Feb. 2020 Victoria was a dark, ethereal beauty, and almost spookily serious. John Strausbaugh, National Review, "The Scandalous and Pioneering Victoria Woodhull," 8 Feb. 2020 The two leaping animals seem both earthly and ethereal. Alicia Ault, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Japanese Artist Chiura Obata Came to Be an American Great," 29 Jan. 2020 The lazy snowflakes are bright against the dark timber, giving the scene an ethereal quality. Natalie Krebs, Outdoor Life, "Elk Hunting a Secret Public-Land Spot in the Utah Backcountry," 17 Jan. 2020 Finally, the song leaves us with two more ethereal utterances. Daniel Wolfe, Quartz, "Babies named Jolene are on the rise," 12 Dec. 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

27 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ethereal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethereal. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for ethereal

ethereal

adjective
How to pronounce ethereal (audio)

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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