rar·​e·​fied | \ ˈrer-ə-ˌfīd How to pronounce rarefied (audio) \
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

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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.

Examples of rarefied in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

With his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election now over, special counsel Robert Mueller joins a small and rarefied club of prosecutors who have taken on the politically fraught task of investigating a sitting president. Byron Tau, WSJ, "Probe Caps Robert Mueller’s Long Career in Public Service," 23 Mar. 2019 Overseeing any company with a trillion-dollar market cap is hard enough, but even in that rarefied space there are degrees of difficulty. Steven Sinofsky, WSJ, "‘Tim Cook’ Review: How to Succeed a Success," 15 Apr. 2019 The basic Delaktig bedframe costs just $329, making Dixon’s rarefied design sensibility affordable for just about everyone. Michele Petry, House Beautiful, "Tom Dixon's New Bedroom Line for Ikea Is Seriously Chic—And Smart," 25 Feb. 2019 Some may view wine as a rarefied world, but being in a room face to face with producers and winemakers, that isn’t the case. Karen Lubeck, Town & Country, "The 2017 Vintage Makes Its Star Debut at the Premiere Napa Valley Wine Auction," 4 Mar. 2019 Some of the seaport’s new offerings will be more rarefied than the souvenir shops of old. Jane Margolies, New York Times, "Drawing a Younger Crowd to Lower Manhattan," 22 May 2018 There’s room in the rarefied world of couture to indulge in fantasy; no one is channeling it more intensely and poetically than Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "5 Takeaways From Spring 2019 Couture," 26 Jan. 2019 The Future Is Luxury Pot With legalization comes money, and with that come deliriously rarefied versions of everything on High Maintenance. Amanda Duarte, Town & Country, "An Etiquette Guide for the New Pot Elite," 14 Jan. 2019 That may not sound realistic for 99.9 percent of us, but the film is a peek into that rarefied world—and clothing became a tool for the main character, Rachel. Emily Farra, Vogue, "The Most Stylish Movies and TV Shows of 2018," 17 Dec. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of rarefied

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for rarefied

Last Updated

5 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for rarefied

The first known use of rarefied was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for rarefied



English Language Learners Definition of rarefied

often disapproving : understood by only a small group of people : only for people who know about a particular thing
technical, of air : not having much oxygen because of being high up in the atmosphere

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More from Merriam-Webster on rarefied

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rarefied

Nglish: Translation of rarefied for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rarefied for Arabic Speakers

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