See more synonyms for rarefied on Thesaurus.com
  1. extremely high or elevated; lofty; exalted: the rarefied atmosphere of a scholarly symposium.
  2. 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.
  1. to make rare or rarer; make less dense: to rarefy a gas.
  2. to make more refined, spiritual, or exalted.
verb (used without object), rar·e·fied, rar·e·fy·ing.
  1. 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. 2018

Related Words for rarefied

exalted, esoteric, lofty, select, elevated, private, cliquish

Examples from the Web for rarefied

Contemporary Examples of rarefied

Historical Examples of rarefied

  • Science has told you that at such an altitude the air is rarefied.

    Marion's Faith.

    Charles King

  • It appears to respire as easily in the most rarefied air as on the seashore.

    The Western World

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • But I will not press this view, which may be too rarefied and lofty for the vulgar mind.

    A Pessimist

    Robert Timsol

  • The birds had long abandoned us, for in that rarefied air they could not have flown.

  • They were intoxicated with rarefied atmosphere, not with alcohol.

British Dictionary definitions for rarefied


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


verb -fies, -fying or -fied
  1. 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