nu·​mi·​nous | \ ˈnü-mə-nəs How to pronounce numinous (audio) , ˈnyü- \

Definition of numinous

2 : filled with a sense of the presence of divinity : holy
3 : appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense : spiritual

Other Words from numinous

numinousness \ ˈnü-​mə-​nəs-​nəs How to pronounce numinous (audio) , ˈnyü-​ \ noun

Synonyms for numinous


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Numinous and Supernatural

Numinous is from the Latin word numen, meaning "nod of the head" or "divine will" (the latter sense suggesting a figurative nod, of assent or of command, of the divine head). English speakers have been using numen for centuries with the meaning "a spiritual force or influence." The meanings of the adjective include "supernatural" or "mysterious" (as in "possessed of a numinous energy force"), "holy" ("the numinous atmosphere of the catacombs"), and "appealing to the aesthetic sense" ("the numinous nuances of her art"). There are also the nouns numinousness and numinosity, although these are rare.

Examples of numinous in a Sentence

Her poetry is filled with a numinous beauty. some have sensed a numinous energy in the landscape around Sedona, Arizona
Recent Examples on the Web This understanding of existence as both concrete and numinous jibed with Ellis’s photographic practice. Chris Wiley, The New Yorker, 14 Dec. 2021 Armed with the right mind-set, the familiar could become numinous. Henry Wismayer, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2021 The book has less to do with heroic resistance than with something harder to put your finger on: the numinous, world-renewing potential that some Apache feel in Oak Flat. Max Norman, The New Yorker, 23 July 2021 Set in the fairy tale-like beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the film captures a numinous world that shimmers between the visionary and natural., 5 May 2021 María Elena moved through a world that was haunted by spirits, numinous presences who could give comfort and advice or demand sacrifice and appeasement. New York Times, 2 Feb. 2021 His fascination with a numinous world that may not mean anything at all: that’s his equivalent of Balzac’s greedy-eyed fascination with money. Michael Gorra, The New York Review of Books, 17 Nov. 2020 Many fuse the observational practices of cinéma vérité with the more active mode of interviewing; some use numinous close-ups in sequences of visual ambiguity to supplement more conventional exposition. Phoebe Chen, The New York Review of Books, 27 June 2020 The former receive all the press and relate to the feeling of an overwhelming presence, something numinous, divine. Christof Koch, Scientific American, 19 May 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of numinous

1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for numinous

Latin numin-, numen numen

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Time Traveler for numinous

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The first known use of numinous was in 1647

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Cite this Entry

“Numinous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on numinous

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


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