sempiternal

adjective

sem·​pi·​ter·​nal ˌsem-pi-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce sempiternal (audio)
: of never-ending duration : eternal
sempiternally adverb

Did you know?

Despite their similarities, sempiternal and eternal come from different roots. Sempiternal is derived from the Late Latin sempiternalis and ultimately from semper, Latin for "always." (You may recognize semper as a key element in the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps: semper fidelis, meaning "always faithful.") Eternal, on the other hand, is derived, by way of Middle French and Middle English, from the Late Latin aeternalis and ultimately from aevum, Latin for "age" or "eternity." Sempiternal is much less common than eternal, but some writers have found it useful. 19th-century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example, wrote, "The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, … to lose our sempiternal memory, and to do something without knowing how or why…."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web But law, and especially the sempiternal distinction between right and wrong, is never predicated on contracts or consent. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, 20 June 2019

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Late Latin sempiternalis, from Latin sempiternus, from semper ever, always, from sem- one, same (akin to Old Norse samr same) + per through — more at same, for

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sempiternal was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Sempiternal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sempiternal. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

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