[met-uh-fiz-i-kuh l]


pertaining to or of the nature of metaphysics.
  1. concerned with abstract thought or subjects, as existence, causality, or truth.
  2. concerned with first principles and ultimate grounds, as being, time, or substance.
highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse.
designating or pertaining to the poetry of an early group of 17th-century English poets, notably John Donne, whose characteristic style is highly intellectual and philosophical and features intensive use of ingenious conceits and turns of wit.
Archaic. imaginary or fanciful.

Origin of metaphysical

1375–1425; late Middle English metaphisicalle < Medieval Latin metaphysicālis. See metaphysic, -al1
Related formsmet·a·phys·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·met·a·phys·i·cal, adjectivean·ti·met·a·phys·i·cal·ly, adverbhy·per·met·a·phys·i·cal, adjectivenon·met·a·phys·i·cal, adjectivenon·met·a·phys·i·cal·ly, adverbqua·si-met·a·phys·i·cal, adjectivequa·si-met·a·phys·i·cal·ly, adverbun·met·a·phys·i·cal, adjectiveun·met·a·phys·i·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for metaphysical



relating to or concerned with metaphysics
(of a statement or theory) having the form of an empirical hypothesis, but in fact immune from empirical testing and therefore (in the view of the logical positivists) literally meaningless
(popularly) abstract, abstruse, or unduly theoretical
incorporeal; supernatural
Derived Formsmetaphysically, adverb



denoting or relating to certain 17th-century poets who combined intense feeling with ingenious thought and often used elaborate imagery and conceits. Notable among them were Donne, Herbert, and Marvell


a poet of this group
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 metaphysical

early 15c., "pertaining to metaphysics," from methaphesik (late 14c.) + -al, and in part from Medieval Latin metaphysicalis, from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). It came to be used in the sense of "abstract, speculative" (e.g. by Johnson, who applied it to certain 17c. poets, notably Donne and Cowley, who used "witty conceits" and abstruse imagery). Related: Metaphysically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper