Word of the Day : January 27, 2018

nebulous

play
adjective NEB-yuh-lus

Definition

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a nebula

2 : indistinct, vague

Did You Know?

Nebulous comes from the Latin word nebulosus, meaning "misty," which in turn comes from nebula, meaning "mist," "fog," or "cloud." In the 18th century, English speakers borrowed nebula and gave it a somewhat more specific meaning than the Latin version. In English, nebula refers to a cloud of gas or dust in deep space, or in less technical contexts, simply to a galaxy. Nebulous itself, when it doesn't have interstellar implications, usually means "cloudy" or "foggy" in a figurative sense. One's memory of a long-past event, for example, will often be nebulous; a teenager might give a nebulous recounting of an evening's events upon coming home; or a politician might make a campaign promise but give only a nebulous description of how he or she would fulfill it.


Examples

"There's nothing quite like a literary trilogy. As a reader, there's something wonderful about seeing a story unfold over the course of three books; you get more detailed narrative than in a single book without having to deal with the nebulous endpoint of an ongoing series." — Allen Adams, The Maine Edge, 6 Dec. 2017

"Americans love the circus because it has the rare ability to invoke the real memories of one's first childhood visit coupled with the nebulous cultural nostalgia of circus parades, mustachioed ringmasters and the assembled curiosities of a world made wide before one's eyes." — Tim Baker, Newsweek.com, 19 Dec. 2017



Word Family Quiz

What relative of nebulous refers to the light depicted around the head of a divinity, saint, or sovereign in a picture?

VIEW THE ANSWER

Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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