an·​gel ˈān-jəl How to pronounce angel (audio)
plural angels
religion : a spiritual being serving as a divine messenger and intermediary and often as a special protector of an individual or nation
especially : one in the lowest rank in the celestial hierarchy see also guardian angel
angels plural, religion : an order of angels see celestial hierarchy
: an attendant usually benevolent spirit or guardian
often used without implication of belief in its supernatural character
"A putting angel must have come to me during the night because I felt great today and every putt I hit was a great putt," he [Paul McGinley] said. Nelson Clare
: the part of a person's character or nature that is said to guide the person's thoughts and behavior
… here was [Lyndon] Johnson charging straight at a problem, telling his fellow citizens an ugly truth about themselves while trying to invoke the better angels of their nature. Kevin Baker
[Lamar] Alexander concluded: "In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln appealed to the better angels of our nature. If there are better angels of our nature, I guess that means there must be worse angels in us as well. …" Congressional Documents and Publications
: a usually white-robed winged figure of human form in fine art see also snow angel
: messenger, harbinger
an angel of death
The dear good angel of the Spring, / The nightingale. Ben Jonson
: a person who is like an angel (as in looks or behavior)
Your toddler is such an angel.
Be an angel and get me a cup of tea, would you?
Childs is no angel either, and that gives his book its drama. George Johnson
Christian Science : inspiration from God
: one who aids or supports with money or influence
Angels are considered one of the oldest sources of capital for start-up entrepreneurs; the term itself, by most accounts, comes from the affluent patrons who used to finance Broadway plays in the early twentieth century. Colleen Debaise
Typically, angel investors put up anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to back a young start-up, and can fund as many as 10 companies at any given time. Michael B. Farrell

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Down on his luck, a young family man is visited by an angel on Christmas Eve who shows him what life would be like if he was never born while also unveiling the true meaning of the holiday season. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2022 This shimmering 5-foot angel will bring the holiday spirit to your home and be a lovely focal point among your outdoor Christmas decor. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 18 Nov. 2022 Get involved: To learn more about the program or to adopt an angel, visit Holly V. Hays, The Indianapolis Star, 16 Nov. 2022 And no angel number might be more powerful in doing this than 10. Ysolt Usigan, Woman's Day, 15 Nov. 2022 The other got the stockings, but this one got an angel. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, 15 Nov. 2022 Several species are commonly called angel-wing begonia. Viveka Neveln, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 Nov. 2022 Acrobats in angel outfits danced in the back corners, suspended from white ribbons as a choir sang. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, 11 Nov. 2022 Brothers Osborne are wonderful, and another angel of ours been Jordan Davis, just affirming to us that our art matters to him. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 9 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Old English engel & Anglo-French angele; both from Late Latin angelus, from Greek angelos, literally, messenger

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of angel was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near angel

Cite this Entry

“Angel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



an·​gel ˈān-jəl How to pronounce angel (audio)
: a spiritual being serving God especially as a messenger or as a guardian of human beings
: messenger, harbinger
angel of death
: a person as pure, lovely, or good as an angel
angelic adjective
or angelical
angelically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on angel

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