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[urth-lee] /ˈɜrθ li/
adjective, earthlier, earthliest.
of or relating to the earth, especially as opposed to heaven; worldly.
possible or conceivable:
an invention of no earthly use to anyone.
Origin of earthly
before 1000; Middle English erth(e)ly, Old English eorthlīc. See earth, -ly
Related forms
earthliness, noun
superearthly, adjective
Can be confused
earthly, earthy (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. secular, temporal, mortal. Earthly, terrestrial, worldly, mundane refer to that which is concerned with the earth literally or figuratively. Earthly now almost always implies a contrast to that which is heavenly: earthly pleasures; our earthly home. Terrestrial, from Latin, is the dignified equivalent of earthly, and it applies to the earth as a planet or to the land as opposed to the water: the terrestrial globe; terrestrial areas. Worldly is commonly used in the sense of being devoted to the vanities, cares, advantages, or gains of this present life to the exclusion of spiritual interests or the life to come: worldly success; worldly standards. Mundane, from Latin, is a formal equivalent of worldly and suggests that which is bound to the earth, is not exalted, and therefore is commonplace: mundane pursuits.
1. spiritual, divine. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for earthly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When they do not disturb him with earthly medicines, he is quiet and happy.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Must all novels end with an earthly marriage, and nothing be left for heaven?

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • What sun of earthly joy could ever break through such clouds!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • If he was not to be her earthly refuge in this trouble as in any other, she would none of him!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • There's no people in the earthly world talks as fine as the Ulster people.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
British Dictionary definitions for earthly


adjective -lier, -liest
of or characteristic of the earth as opposed to heaven; material or materialistic; worldly
(usually used with a negative) (informal) conceivable or possible; feasible (in such phrases as not an earthly (chance), etc)
Derived Forms
earthliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for earthly

Old English eorþlic "earthly, worldly;" see earth + -ly (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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