• synonyms


[ih-theer-ee-uh l]
  1. light, airy, or tenuous: an ethereal world created through the poetic imagination.
  2. extremely delicate or refined: ethereal beauty.
  3. heavenly or celestial: gone to his ethereal home.
  4. of or relating to the upper regions of space.
  5. Chemistry. pertaining to, containing, or resembling ethyl ether.
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Also ae·the·re·al (for defs 1–4).

Origin of ethereal

1505–15; < Latin aethere(us) (< Greek aithérios), equivalent to aether- ether + -eus adj. suffix + -al1
Related formse·the·re·al·i·ty, e·the·re·al·ness, noune·the·re·al·ly, adverbe·the·re·ous, adjectivenon·e·the·re·al, adjectivenon·e·the·re·al·ly, adverbnon·e·the·re·al·ness, nounnon·e·the·re·al·i·ty, nounun·e·the·re·al, adjectiveun·e·the·re·al·ly, adverbun·e·the·re·al·ness, noun


  1. ether(defs 3–5).
  2. (initial capital letter) the ancient Greek personification of the clear upper air of the sky.
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Related formsae·the·re·al [ih-theer-ee-uh l] /ɪˈθɪər i əl/, ae·ther·ic [ih-ther-ik] /ɪˈθɛr ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for aethereal

Historical Examples

  • No stronger proof of their aethereal conversational earnestness could be offered.

    The Amazing Marriage, Complete

    George Meredith

  • We on the earth's surface live night and day in the midst of aethereal commotion.

British Dictionary definitions for aethereal


  1. a variant spelling of ethereal (def. 1), ethereal (def. 2), ethereal (def. 3)
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Derived Formsaethereality (ɪˌθɪərɪˈælɪtɪ), nounaethereally, adverb


  1. a variant spelling of ether (def. 3), ether (def. 4), ether (def. 5)
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  1. extremely delicate or refined; exquisite
  2. almost as light as air; impalpable; airy
  3. celestial or spiritual
  4. of, containing, or dissolved in an ether, esp diethyl etheran ethereal solution
  5. of or relating to the ether
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Derived Formsethereality or etherealness, nounethereally, adverb

Word Origin

C16: from Latin aethereus, from Greek aitherios, from aithēr ether
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

Word Origin and History for aethereal



1510s, "of the highest regions of the atmosphere," from ether + -al (1); extended sense of "light, airy" is from 1590s. Meaning "spiritlike, immaterial" is from 1640s. Related: Ethereally.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

aethereal in Medicine


  1. Characterized by lightness and insubstantiality; intangible.
  2. Of, relating to, or containing ether.
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Related formse•the′re•ali•ty (-ălĭ-tē) null n.e•there•al•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.