temporal

1 of 3

adjective (1)

tem·​po·​ral ˈtem-p(ə-)rəl How to pronounce temporal (audio)
1
a
: of or relating to time as opposed to eternity
b
: of or relating to earthly life
c
: lay or secular rather than clerical or sacred : civil
lords temporal
2
: of or relating to grammatical tense or a distinction of time
3
a
: of or relating to time as distinguished from space
b
: of or relating to the sequence of time or to a particular time : chronological
temporally adverb

temporal

2 of 3

noun

: a bodily part (such as a bone or muscle) that is near the temples or the sides of the skull behind the orbits : a temporal part

temporal

3 of 3

adjective (2)

: of or relating to the temples or the sides of the skull behind the orbits

Did you know?

Temporal existence is often contrasted with spiritual existence, which many religions teach is eternal. The American system of government features a separation of church and state—that is, a separation of spiritual and temporal authority. But such separation is relatively recent. In past centuries, the Roman Catholic Church exerted temporal authority—that is, political power—throughout much of Europe, and the Church of England has always been officially headed by the temporal ruler of Great Britain. Temporal isn't always used in religious contexts; for example, child psychologists often measure "temporal processing"—that is, speed of thinking—in children with mental difficulties. Note that temporal may also mean "near the temples (of the head);" thus, your brain's temporal lobes are situated at your temples. But this temporal is based on a different Latin root.

Examples of temporal in a Sentence

Adjective (1) The struggle of the dispersed Tibetan people is made all the more newsworthy by the nonviolent emphasis of their spiritual and temporal leader, the Nobel Peace laureate Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India. Flynne Bachleda, Publisher's Weekly, 15 Aug. 1994
By eschewing history and politics, The Last Train From Madrid leeches war of its particular temporal context, providing an eight-year-old with his first glimpse of war as eternal anonymous suffering. Donald Hall, Harper's, May 1991
… each in their own way wanted an authority which could both uphold the law and maintain the order of society; once the first age was over, the consequence of this was the de facto separation between those who maintained the law … and the men of the sword who had the power to enforce temporal order. Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples, 1991
The history of life is not a continuum of development, but a record punctuated by brief, sometimes geologically instantaneous, episodes of mass extinction and subsequent diversification. The geological time scale maps this history, for fossils provide our chief criterion in fixing the temporal order of rocks. Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life, 1989
do not worry about temporal concerns, but instead focus on spiritual matters administrators on campus are in place to deal with students' temporal needs, and spiritual advisors are available to help students with their nontemporal needs
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
This temporal flashing back and forward allows the audience to understand the stakes here on a sensory level. Rich Juzwiak, TIME, 25 June 2024 Indeed, temporal confusion is one of the main problems here. Chris Jones, New York Daily News, 24 Apr. 2024 This system for temporal power sharing helps to explain why the proportion of Nigerians who feel that their ethnic group is discriminated against has fallen markedly in recent years. Fola Aina, Foreign Affairs, 5 May 2021 Enlarge / The Enterprise, caught in the wake of a temporal vortex, witnesses the Earth, assimilated long ago, in the altered timeline. Paul Sutter, Ars Technica, 23 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for temporal 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'temporal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective (1)

Middle English temporal, temporel "transitory, worldly, material, of secular society," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin temporālis "of time (in grammar), temporary, relating to time as opposed to eternity" (Medieval Latin, "lay, secular"), from tempor-, tempus "time, period of time" + -ālis -al entry 1 — more at tempo

Noun

borrowed from Middle French, noun derivative of temporal, adjective, "of the temple" — more at temporal entry 3

Adjective (2)

borrowed from Middle French timporal, temporal, borrowed from Late Latin temporālis, from Latin tempor-, tempus temple entry 2 + -ālis -al entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective (1)

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

Noun

1541, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

1597, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of temporal was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near temporal

Cite this Entry

“Temporal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temporal. Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

temporal

adjective
tem·​po·​ral
ˈtem-p(ə-)rəl
1
: of or relating to time as opposed to eternity
2
a
: of or relating to earthly life
b
: of or relating to material as opposed to spiritual concerns
temporally
adverb

Medical Definition

temporal

1 of 3 adjective
tem·​po·​ral ˈtem-p(ə-)rəl How to pronounce temporal (audio)
: of or relating to time as distinguished from space
also : of or relating to the sequence of time or to a particular time
temporally adverb

temporal

2 of 3 noun
: a temporal part (as a bone or muscle)

temporal

3 of 3 adjective
: of or relating to the temples or the sides of the skull behind the orbits

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