[ neb-yuh-luh ]
See synonyms for nebula on
noun,plural neb·u·lae [neb-yuh-lee, -lahy], /ˈnɛb yəˌli, -ˌlaɪ/, neb·u·las.
  1. Astronomy.

  2. Pathology.

    • a faint opacity in the cornea.

    • cloudiness in the urine.

  1. any liquid medication prepared for use as a spray.

Origin of nebula

First recorded in 1655–65; from Latin: “cloud, mist, vapor”; akin to German Nebel “fog, haze,” Greek nephélē “cloud,” Sanskrit nábha- “cloud, vapor”

Other words from nebula

  • neb·u·lar, adjective
  • non·neb·u·lar, adjective
  • pre·neb·u·lar, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use nebula in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nebula


/ (ˈnɛbjʊlə) /

nounplural -lae (-ˌliː) or -las
  1. astronomy a diffuse cloud of particles and gases (mainly hydrogen) that is visible either as a hazy patch of light (either an emission or a reflection nebula) or an irregular dark region against a brighter background (dark nebula): Compare planetary nebula

  2. pathol

    • opacity of the cornea

    • cloudiness of the urine

  1. any substance for use in an atomizer spray

Origin of nebula

C17: from Latin: mist, cloud; related to Greek nephétē cloud, Old High German nebul cloud, Old Norse njól night

Derived forms of nebula

  • nebular, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for nebula


[ nĕbyə-lə ]

Plural nebulae (nĕbyə-lē′) nebulas
  1. A visible, thinly spread cloud of interstellar gas and dust. Some nebulae are the remnants of a supernova explosion, others are gravity-induced condensations of the gases in the interstellar medium which in certain cases may become a site for the formation of new stars. The term was formerly used of any hazy, seemingly cloudlike object, including what are now recognized as other galaxies beyond the Milky Way; it is restricted now to actual clouds of gas and dust within our own galaxy.♦ Nebulae are generally classified as bright or dark. Among the bright nebulae are cold clouds that reflect light from nearby stars (reflection nebulae) and hot, ionized clouds that glow with their own light (emission nebulae). Dark nebulae-cold clouds that absorb the passing light from background stars-are called absorption nebulae. See more at star.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for nebula


[ (neb-yuh-luh) ]

plur. nebulae

In astronomy, a hazy patch of light visible in the sky. Some nebulae are clouds of gas within the Milky Way; others are distant galaxies.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.