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 glacially (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

Lead transported in this way to the Arctic often ends up trapped in layers of glacial ice. The Economist, "Arctic lead levels shed new light on Europe’s history," 10 July 2019 For context, this means 87% of the Himalayan glacial ice present in 1975 was still around in 2000. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Declassified satellite images show how Himalayan glaciers have shrunk," 19 June 2019 Selling the beauty of rock formations The Dells is a gorge on the Wisconsin River, formed by the bursting of a glacial lake some 15,000 years ago. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "See the photographs that put the Dells on the map at an exclusive exhibit at West Bend's Museum of Wisconsin Art," 4 June 2019 The deep freeze of glacial ice seemed like the only place where DNA might stand a chance of surviving more or less intact for thousands of years. Quanta Magazine, "Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems," 29 May 2019 This melting means runoff is 1.6 times greater than if the glaciers were stable, resulting in seasonal flooding and the creation of many glacial lakes that create a risk of catastrophic outburst floods. Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, "Himalayan glaciers melting at alarming rate, spy satellites show," 19 June 2019 While outrage came quickly, the bureaucracy of justice has moved at a glacial pace. Wesley Lowery, Washington Post, "‘I can’t breathe.’ Five years after Eric Garner died in struggle with New York police, resolution still elusive.," 13 June 2019 Watchdogs and ethics advocates say the glacial pace of the Marionneaux case and its limited scope exemplify the weaknesses of Louisiana’s ethics enforcement apparatus. Andrea Gallo, ProPublica, "Why the “Most Egregious” Ethics Case in Louisiana Remains Open Nine Years Later," 16 May 2019 What's more, the Pentagon's glacial pace is no way to meet quickly emerging threats from Russia and China. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Disrupting the Pentagon: Can the Air Force Learn To Love Startup Culture?," 12 Apr. 2019

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

13 Jul 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 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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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

Comments on glacial

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characterized by aphorism

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