neb·​u·​la | \ ˈne-byə-lə How to pronounce nebula (audio) \
plural nebulae\ ˈne-​byə-​ˌlē How to pronounce nebula (audio) , -​ˌlī \ also nebulas

Definition of nebula

1 : any of numerous clouds of gas or dust in interstellar space
2 : galaxy sense 1b especially : a galaxy other than the Milky Way galaxy not used technically

Other Words from nebula

nebular \ ˈne-​byə-​lər How to pronounce nebula (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

Nebula comes to us from Latin, where it means "mist" or "cloud." In its earliest English uses in the 1600s, nebula was chiefly a medical term that could refer either to a cloudy formation in urine or to a cloudy speck or film on the eye that caused vision problems. It was first applied to great interstellar clouds of gas and dust in the early 1700s. The adjective nebulous comes from the same Latin root as nebula, and it is considerably older, being first used as a synonym of cloudy or foggy as early as the 1300s. Like nebula, however, this adjective was not used in an astronomical sense until the mid-1600s.

Examples of nebula in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Between the two lies the extent of the Tri-County Fair: a nebula of vivid lights, fried food, and laughter. David Hill, Harper’s Magazine , 27 Apr. 2022 Cassiopeia is a nebula located around 11,000 light-years away from Earth. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 10 Apr. 2022 The closest region of our Milky Way galaxy to us where stars are now being born, the Orion Nebula is the brightest nebula and is easily visible to the naked eye to the naked eye after dark each week in the southern sky. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 6 Mar. 2022 As the solar nebula collapsed, the matter within began to spin faster under its own gravity. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 15 Apr. 2022 The nebula is approximately 1,250 light-years away from the Earth. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 17 Mar. 2022 BepiColombo’s goals is to use Mercury as a window onto our own solar system’s earliest solar nebula to learn more about our early solar system’s composition and formation. Bruce Dorminey, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 Her new digital art was inspired by images of nebula clouds taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. CNN, 17 Feb. 2022 On the right is a reflection of nebula NGC 2023 and to the upper right of that is the Horsehead Nebula. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 7 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nebula.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of nebula

1718, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nebula

New Latin, from Latin, mist, cloud; akin to Old High German nebul fog, Greek nephelē, nephos cloud

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nebula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for nebula


neb·​u·​la | \ ˈne-byə-lə How to pronounce nebula (audio) \
plural nebulae\ -​ˌlē \ or nebulas

Kids Definition of nebula

1 : any of many clouds of gas or dust seen in the sky among the stars


neb·​u·​la | \ ˈneb-yə-lə How to pronounce nebula (audio) \
plural nebulas or nebulae\ -​ˌlē How to pronounce nebula (audio) , -​ˌlī How to pronounce nebula (audio) \

Medical Definition of nebula

: a slight cloudy opacity of the cornea

More from Merriam-Webster on nebula

Nglish: Translation of nebula for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about nebula


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