gla·​cial | \ ˈglā-shəl \

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 \ 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

Mohonk is a 149-year-old castle (and National Historic Landmark to boot) on the southern ledge of the Shawangunk mountains, overlooking glacial Lake Mohonk. Lily Kupets, Vogue, "A Winter Weekend Destination You’ve Likely Overlooked: New Paltz, New York," 28 Dec. 2018 Thanks to the volunteer coder army, the game morphs and changes at a pace that is simultaneously blistering and glacial. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "If You Can't Beat It, Code It," 17 Dec. 2018 Viewers will have to be content with the fact that this is Saulnier’s most visually beautiful and accomplished film, thanks to a striking wilderness setting full of icy mountains and glacial rivers. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Netflix’s Hold the Dark throws Jeffrey Wright to the wolves," 28 Sep. 2018 From glacial rivers to expansive bays, our state's waters are a great way to see wildlife, glaciers and Alaska's incredible landscape. Yoshina Okamoto, Anchorage Daily News, "Want to get off the beaten path in Alaska? Get on the water instead," 2 May 2018 Unfortunately for presidents who serve at most two four-year terms, government spaceflight during the modern era moves at a glacial pace. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "How the White House plans a return to the Moon during Trump’s presidency," 23 Aug. 2018 This glacial pace is something to which residents have become well accustomed. Tara Golshan, Vox, "The races that still haven’t been called in Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, explained," 12 Nov. 2018 In this scenario, the reform program wouldn’t be reversed but could slow down to the glacial pace under past Saudi rulers. Karen Elliott House, WSJ, "The Saudi Crown Prince’s Uncertain Fate," 22 Oct. 2018 The rift is filled with glacial runoff so pure that visibility is limited only by the human eye. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, "Using Fear to Break Out of a Funk," 24 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for glacial

Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for glacial

The first known use of glacial was in 1656

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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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on glacial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with glacial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for glacial

Spanish Central: Translation of glacial

Nglish: Translation of glacial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of glacial for Arabic Speakers

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