rar·​e·​fy | \ ˈrer-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce rarefy (audio) \
variants: or less commonly rarify
rarefied; rarefying

Definition of rarefy

transitive verb

1 : to make rare, thin, porous, or less dense : to expand without the addition of matter
2 : to make more spiritual, refined, or abstruse

intransitive verb

: to become less dense

Examples of rarefy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web As rarefied as his work was, as an individual and as a spirit there was something to celebrate — and yet there were foibles and missteps along the way too, so there was real good drama there. Tim Greiving, latimes.com, "Ron Howard’s latest music documentary shines a light on opera superstar Pavarotti," 3 June 2019 But in 2003, when Clear was founded, biometric technology was rarefied, known to the public mostly through science fiction films. Claire Martin, New York Times, "Passing Through Airport Security With the Touch of a Finger," 8 Sep. 2017 Touching on issues of artistic survival and the porous boundary between work and pleasure, Ms. Subrin, an accomplished visual artist and filmmaker, sifts addiction, celebrity and the plight of the aging actress into something rarefied yet real. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, "Review: ‘A Woman, a Part’ and a Quest to Reconnect," 21 Mar. 2017 And so while his techniques and ingredients are rarefied, Mr. Lenn’s food is decidedly less luxe in Knoxville, designed to appeal to a broader audience. Jane Black, New York Times, "A Blackberry Farm Chef Goes for a Broader Audience," 20 June 2017 But Mr. Affleck loves the Carlyle’s rarefied throwback allure. Cara Buckley, New York Times, "Trailer: 'Manchester by the Sea'," 4 Nov. 2016 And now, thanks to our constantly rarefying visual culture, the young actormen have become precious too — choosing carefully fitted suits or statement bespokery, not a stray hair on their head or face. Mike Albo, Esquire, "Hollywood's Young Adults Need to Take a Style Risk," 4 Apr. 2012

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rarefy.' 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 rarefy

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for rarefy

Middle English rarefien, rarifien, modification of Latin rarefacere, from rarus rare + facere to make — more at do

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

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Cite this Entry

“Rarefy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rarefy. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for rarefy


variants: also rarify \ ˈrar-​ə-​ˌfī, ˈrer-​ How to pronounce rarefy (audio) \
rarefied also rarified; rarefying also rarifying

Medical Definition of rarefy

transitive verb

: to make rare, thin, porous, or less dense : to expand without the addition of matter

intransitive verb

: to become less dense

More from Merriam-Webster on rarefy

Nglish: Translation of rarefy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rarefy for Arabic Speakers

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