rarefied

adjective
variants: or less commonly rarified

Definition of rarefied

1 :being less dense
2 :of, relating to, or interesting to a select group :esoteric
3 :very high

rarefied was our Word of the Day on 08/29/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of rarefied in a Sentence

  1. It's difficult to breathe in the rarefied air near the mountain's peak.

Recent Examples of rarefied from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Rarefied was formed from the verb rarefy, which derives from a combination of the Latin rarus ("thin" or "rare") with facere ("to make") and has meant "to make thin" since the 14th century. In its original uses back in the 1500s, the adjective rarefied was on the lean side too; it meant "made less dense" (as in "the fog lifted and we could breathe more easily in the rarefied air"). By the 17th century, rarefy had gained the sense "to refine or purify," and over time rarefied followed suit.

First Known Use of rarefied

14th century


RAREFIED Defined for English Language Learners

rarefied

adjective

Definition of rarefied for English Language Learners

  • : understood by only a small group of people : only for people who know about a particular thing

  • of air : not having much oxygen because of being high up in the atmosphere



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