meta·​phys·​i·​cal | \-ˈfi-zi-kəl \

Definition of metaphysical 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of or relating to metaphysics metaphysical truth metaphysical speculation

2a : of or relating to the transcendent (see transcendent sense 1) or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses fleeing from experience to a metaphysical realm— John Dewey

b : supernatural fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crown'd— William Shakespeare

3 : highly abstract or abstruse also : theoretical metaphysical reasoning

4 often capitalized : of or relating to poetry especially of the early 17th century that is highly intellectual and philosophical and marked by unconventional figurative language metaphysical poets



Definition of Metaphysical (Entry 2 of 2)

: a metaphysical poet of the 17th century

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Other Words from metaphysical


metaphysically \ -​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for metaphysical

Synonyms: Adjective

abstract, conceptual, ideal, ideational, notional, theoretical (also theoretic)

Antonyms: Adjective

concrete, nonabstract

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Examples of metaphysical in a Sentence


a metaphysical world of spirits a work that deals with such metaphysical questions as the very nature of knowledge

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The rules have prompted head-scratching among Chinese eaters, and even some metaphysical speculation about what makes a jianbing in the first place. New York Times, "As Chinese ‘Crepe’ Catches On Abroad, a Fight to Preserve Its Soul," 29 May 2018 This introduces a certain metaphysical element, as do Stone's meditations on his purpose in life. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Clint Eastwood finds his inner Eric Rohmer with The 15:17 to Paris.," 9 Feb. 2018 The paintings, and their almost psychedelic palette, are as fleshlike and physical as O’Keeffe’s New Mexican work is stripped and metaphysical. New York Times, "23 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 12 July 2018 When the departed are temporarily allowed into the land of the living during the Day of the Dead, Miguel finds himself between both metaphysical worlds, on a journey to uncover his musical potential and familial roots. Sara Aridi, New York Times, "What’s on TV Tuesday: ‘Coco’ and ‘The Bachelor Winter Games’," 13 Feb. 2018 Underneath the first layer of every story, there’s a ton of interesting depth and interwoven story lines, and metaphysical elements going on. Nick Vadala,, "Marvel's 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' was written by a Germantown Academy grad," 9 July 2018 Xavier Bonner Trio Xavier Bonner weaves threads of the soulful and the metaphysical into his mesmerizing jazz compositions. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Idiot Kids at Outer Limits, Nick Speed at the Old Miami," 5 July 2018 This raises thorny, almost metaphysical questions, as Politico notes: Churches and other groups want to know how they are supposed to go about calculating the value of things like parking spaces for employees. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The GOP Raised Taxes on Churches to Fund Its Giveaway to the Rich," 26 June 2018 Schaeffer’s determination to spread the low-carbon gospel is not purely political or metaphysical. NBC News, "'Ecotopia' teaches low-carbon living to Californians who aren't waiting for Trump to save the climate," 2 June 2018

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1887, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for metaphysical

The first known use of metaphysical was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of metaphysical

: of, relating to, or based on metaphysics

: of or relating to things that are thought to exist but that cannot be seen

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