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

Keep scrolling for more

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 meant "mist" or "cloud." In its earliest English uses in the 1600s, nebula referred 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, but the first uses of nebulous don't appear in English until the late 1700s, well after the discovery of interstellar nebulae.

Examples of nebula in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And as a result, more mesmerizing and outré, like some kind of musical nebula. Ben Flanagan |, al, "Here are Alabama’s 2020 Entertainers of the Year," 31 Dec. 2020 Like a night light for big kids, the small device projects a galaxy of vivid stars (not to mention a nebula cloud) onto the ceiling or wall, perfect for lulling your teen to sleep or providing an ultra-cool backdrop to a sleepover. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, "37 gifts even the coolest teens will love," 3 Dec. 2020 And because most stars originate as binaries that collide, the blue ring nebula fills in an important midpoint of the timeline from massive debris cloud to clear, shining star. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Astronomers Crack the Case of the Blue Ring Nebula," 23 Nov. 2020 The first believes that chondrules were among the first solid objects to appear in the solar system, forming directly from the solar nebula—the cloud of dust and gas that surrounded our young sun. Jonathan O'callaghan, Scientific American, "Asteroid Dust from Hayabusa2 Could Solve a Mystery of Planet Creation," 8 Dec. 2020 Metzger suggested that the blue ring nebula, with its strange cones and dust disk, could represent the events just a few thousand years after the collision of two stars. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Astronomers Crack the Case of the Blue Ring Nebula," 23 Nov. 2020 With the star’s history of violent outbursts and possibility to explode, should astronomers really be firing lasers at the heart of the nebula? Tim Childers, Popular Mechanics, "Why Scientists Are Shooting Lasers at This Extremely Badass Nebula," 23 Nov. 2020 One has a giant space station at the center, which blocks the line of sight between the opposing sides, while another is in a nebula littered with debris. Brittany Vincent, CNN Underscored, "Star Wars: Squadrons is a modern take on the X-Wing series," 1 Oct. 2020 Because the park has no light pollution and a low dust count, visitors can spot with a naked eye such celestial wonders as asteroids, the Orion nebula, meteor showers and the Milky Way. Washington Post, "In a Dark Sky park in Pennsylvania, reaching for the stars from a rooftop tent," 17 July 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nebula

Listen to Our Podcast about nebula

Statistics for nebula

Last Updated

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nebula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nebula



English Language Learners Definition of nebula

: a cloud of gas or dust in space that can sometimes be seen at night
: a group of stars that are very far away and look like a bright cloud at night


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

Comments on nebula

What made you want to look up nebula? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!