rarefied

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 The protesters aren’t asking to enter those rarefied realms but to be clerks and sweepers and cops. Kushanava Choudhury, WSJ, "‘Dreamers’ Review: Limited Prospects, Global Ambitions," 15 Aug. 2018 There’s a rarefied air that only major celebrities, athletes, movie stars, live in. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "How Kanye West’s brand survives his controversies, explained by a crisis PR expert," 3 Oct. 2018 Be among the first to try Matilda, a white-hot, dark-lit restaurant from local legend Scott Pickett in rarefied South Yarra. Dan F. Stapleton, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do in Melbourne in October 2018," 26 Sep. 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.

See More

First Known Use of rarefied

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rarefied

Listen to Our Podcast about rarefied

Statistics for rarefied

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rarefied

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rarefied

rarefied

adjective

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on rarefied

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the range of authority or knowledge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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