gla·​cial | \ ˈglā-shəl How to pronounce glacial (audio) \

Definition of glacial

1 : suggestive of ice: such as
a : extremely cold : frigid a glacial wind
b : devoid of warmth and cordiality a glacial handshake
c : coldly imperturbable maintained a glacial calm
2 : of a purity marked by the tendency to readily solidify in the form of ice-like crystals glacial acetic acid
3a(1) : of, relating to, or being any of those parts of geologic time from Precambrian onward when a much larger portion of the earth was covered by glaciers than at present
(2) capitalized : pleistocene
b : of, relating to, or produced by glaciers
c : suggestive of the very slow movement of glaciers progress on the bill has been glacial

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Other Words from glacial

glacially \ ˈglā-​shə-​lē How to pronounce glacial (audio) \ adverb

Examples of glacial in a Sentence

Progress on the bill has been glacial. a glacial weather front coming down from Canada will bring freezing temperatures this weekend
Recent Examples on the Web Yet another study, published this month in Nature Geoscience, examined a massive glacial lake in Peru. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Deadly Himalayan Flood Shows Perils of Mountain Warming," 10 Feb. 2021 And whereas in previous months, those sectors seemed to be quickly returning to health, that progress largely reversed in January, and many of them are now recovering at a glacial pace. New York Times, "The Jobs Crisis Is Broader Than It Seemed," 5 Feb. 2021 Questions about the glacial pace of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts prompted Newsom to make the 1 million dose promise on Jan. 8. Los Angeles Times, "Newsom promised 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations. California can’t tell if he hit goal," 21 Jan. 2021 In many coastal locations, relatively mild, salty waters sit below a layer of colder, fresher water in glacial fjords. Author: Chris Mooney, Andrew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, "Earth is now losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year. And it’s going to get worse.," 26 Jan. 2021 At times, the shots are progressing at a pace that seems glacial, with a total of just 1,742 total doses given last Saturday and Sunday, the most recent days for which data is available. Glenn Howatt, Star Tribune, "Minnesota pharmacies ask to be included in COVID-19 vaccine rollout," 20 Jan. 2021 One thing that slows cutting-edge deployments is that selling energy—closing contracts with many different states, cities, or businesses—is often a glacial, convoluted affair, notes Tim Latimer, CEO of Fervo Energy, a developer of geothermal energy. Clive Thompson, Wired, "Climate Change Needs an Operation Warp Speed," 17 Jan. 2021 Governments in Europe, which are struggling with stubbornly high Covid-19 case numbers and a glacial vaccine rollout, reacted with dismay. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, "Vaccine Shortfall to Hit Europe, Canada as Pfizer Plant Is Upgraded," 15 Jan. 2021 Basalt has higher amounts of silica and iron than the kinds of rock found at the Canadian glacier, which means that all that glacial grinding at Kötlujökull should produce more hydrogen gas. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Glacier-dwelling bacteria thrive on chemical energy derived from rocks and water," 30 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'glacial.' 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 glacial

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for glacial

Latin glacialis, from glacies

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Time Traveler for glacial

Time Traveler

The first known use of glacial was in 1656

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Statistics for glacial

Last Updated

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Glacial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for glacial



English Language Learners Definition of glacial

: of or relating to glaciers : produced or caused by glaciers
: very cold
: very slow


gla·​cial | \ ˈglā-shəl How to pronounce glacial (audio) \

Kids Definition of glacial

1 : of or relating to glaciers glacial ice
2 : very cold
3 : very slow a glacial pace

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