extremely high or elevated; lofty; exalted: the rarefied atmosphere of a scholarly symposium.
of, belonging to, or appealing to an exclusive group; select; esoteric: rarefied tastes.

Origin of rarefied

First recorded in 1625–35; rarefy + -ed2
Related formsul·tra·rar·e·fied, adjectiveun·rar·e·fied, adjective



verb (used with object), rar·e·fied, rar·e·fy·ing.

to make rare or rarer; make less dense: to rarefy a gas.
to make more refined, spiritual, or exalted.

verb (used without object), rar·e·fied, rar·e·fy·ing.

to become rare or less dense; become thinned: Moisture rarefies when heated.

Origin of rarefy

1350–1400; Middle English rarefien < Middle French rarefier < Latin rārēfacere, equivalent to rārē-, combining form of rārus rare1 (for expected rāri-; orig. of -ē- unclear) + facere to make; see -fy
Related formsrar·e·fi·a·ble, adjectiverar·e·fi·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rarefied

Contemporary Examples of rarefied

Historical Examples of rarefied

  • The brilliant sun of the tropics, burning mercilessly through the rarefied air, causes the scant vegetation to wither.

    Inca Land

    Hiram Bingham

  • I confess I could not possibly live in the rarefied atmosphere of a final solution.

    The Friendly Road

    (AKA David Grayson) Ray Stannard Baker

  • Here he seemed to be rid of the aura of the dining-room portrait and in a rarefied atmosphere of Tudor turbulence.

  • The impregnation may also be effected in rarefied air under a bell glass (p. 68).

  • The air from the mouth of a singer is alternately condensed and rarefied just as you see here.

British Dictionary definitions for rarefied



exalted in nature or character; loftya rarefied spiritual existence
current within only a small group; esoteric or exclusive
(of a gas, esp the atmosphere at high altitudes) having a low density; thin


verb -fies, -fying or -fied

to make or become rarer or less dense; thin out
Derived Formsrarefiable, adjectiverarefier, noun

Word Origin for rarefy

C14: from Old French raréfier, from Latin rārēfacere, from rārus rare 1 + facere to make
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 rarefied



late 14c., from Old French rarefier (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin rarificare, from Latin rarefacere "make rare," from rarus "rare, thin" (see rare (adj.1)) + facere "to make" (see factitious). Related: Rarefied.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper