The Meaning of Ethereal: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of ethereal? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word ethereal, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word ethereal mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word ethereal is an adjective that means having a delicate beauty, or unrelated to the real word and practical things and of the higher regions – these would be said to be consisting of ether or extreme delicacy. The word ethereal has four syllables – e-the-re-al, and the pronunciation of ethereal is ɪθɪəriəl.

Many things can be ethereal, including an ethereal solution, ethereal space, hypothetical upper ethereal regions, ethereal forms, an ethereal effect, ethereal messenger, ethereal mountains, ethereal liquids, or other things than have an unusual lightness or insubstantiality. Ethereal is used in chem and chemical science to refer to a salt of some organic radical as a base, a branch of the natural sciences dealing with the composition of substances and their properties and reactions, or in physics meaning pertaining to or having the constitution of ether or characteristics of ether.

Many other languages also contain words that mean ethereal. You may notice that many of these words look and sound similar to the word ethereal. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that mean the same thing as well as look and sound similar between languages. These are often formed when two words have the same root word or language of origin like Latin or Greek. This list of translations of ethereal is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Spanish: etéreo‎
  •  Hebrew: שְׁמֵימִי‎ (shmeimi)
  •  Russian: эфи́рный‎
  •  Chinese: – Mandarin: (kōnglíng)
  •  Irish: aerga‎
  •  Polish: eteryczny‎ (masc.), nieziemski‎ (masc.), niebiański‎ (masc.)
  •  Bulgarian: ефирен‎
  •  Italian: etereo‎
  •  French: éthéré‎
  •  German: ätherisch‎
  •  Romanian: eteric‎
  •  Finnish: taivaallinen‎

What is the origin of the word ethereal?

According to Etymonline, the word ethereal (adj.) has been used since c16 as the Middle English etherial, which comes from the word ether. This comes from the 12c Old French ether and the Latin aether, Latin aethere, Latin aethereus and Latin aetherius, from the Greek aithēr, Greek aithérios, Greek aitherios and aithein meaning to burn or shine. Related words include etherealisation, ethereality, etherealization, etherealizing, ethereally, and etherealness which are made ussing suffixes like ness, ty, and ly. According to Merriam-Webster, ancient Greeks believed that the Earth was made up of earth, air, fire, and water, but that the heavens and its denizens were made of a purer, less tangible substance – theis upper air, a purer air, is known as known as “ether” or “quintessence.”

How can the word ethereal be used in a sentence?

There are many different ways a person can use the word ethereal in a sentence. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition and expand your vocabulary. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a few examples of the word ethereal to get you started.

The man, Drewno, sat in the soft darkness while reading the ethereal poetry of Tori Amos and novels featuring a character named Madame Colleville, in the Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine. 

The starving woman, Ester,  felt an ethereal quality of the bread and butter the kind women gave her. With the ghostly glimmer of the silk she was wearing, she was certain the slices came from a ghost, her figures light.

Jules Franois Christophe had visions of ethereal light during his migraines. These aerial fancies felt like an airy apparition of angels, but brought him a celestial peace and the supernal happiness of a quiet death. Scientists at Princeton University could not figure out the science of matter behind Thomas Carlyle’s apparitions.

The choir of children sang ethereal melodies, and it was if a heavenly guest was upon the church.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word ethereal?

There are many different words and phrases that a person can use in place of the word ethereal. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying not to repeat yourself in conversation or a written work, as well as if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word ethereal is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  gauzy
  •  imponderable
  •  angelic
  •  incorporeal
  •  otherworldly
  •  diaphanous
  •  unworldly
  •  unreal
  •  ghostly
  •  nonphysical
  •  abstract
  •  saintly
  •  dreamlike
  •  gossamery
  •  thin as a rail
  •  celestial
  •  light
  •  graceful
  •  sublime
  •  delicate
  •  pulverous
  •  supernatural
  •  slight
  •  birdlike
  •  unheavy
  •  godly
  •  unsubstantial
  •  frail
  •  nonmaterial
  •  aerial
  •  vaporous
  •  attenuate
  •  empyrean
  •  etheric
  •  too sacred for words
  •  elegant
  •  phantasmal
  •  airy
  •  shadowy
  •  featherweight
  •  atmospheric
  •  small
  •  spectral
  •  attenuated
  •  imponderous
  •  visionary
  •  elysian
  •  fine-drawn
  •  airlike
  •  refined
  •  not of this world
  •  subtle
  •  meteorological
  •  empyral
  •  aeriform
  •  fragile
  •  divine
  •  beatific
  •  discarnate
  •  chimerical
  •  godlike
  •  lightweight
  •  imaginary
  •  spiritual
  •  asomatous
  •  supernal
  •  baroscopic
  •  apparitional
  •  immaterial
  •  dainty
  •  disembodied
  •  intangible
  •  rare
  •  gossamer
  •  disbodied
  •  insubstantial
  •  gaseous
  •  seraphic
  •  unearthly
  •  tenuous
  •  exquisite
  •  thin
  •  unbodied
  •  wraithlike
  •  filmy
  •  bodiless
  •  empyreal
  •  unembodied
  •  weightless
  •  barometrical
  •  eerie
  •  aery
  •  flimsy
  •  illusory
  •  pneumatic
  •  heavenly
  •  light as a feather
  •  fine
  •  impalpable
  •  vapory

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word ethereal. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are another great tool to use to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word ethereal is provided by Power Thesaurus as well. 

  •  solid
  •  appalling
  •  hefty
  •  palpable
  •  built up
  •  bloated
  •  material
  •  fed
  •  distasteful
  •  disgusting
  •  fattened
  •  horrible
  •  distended
  •  rugged
  •  flourishing
  •  earthly
  •  in good condition
  •  worldly
  •  ponderous
  •  awful
  •  anti-utopian
  •  corporal
  •  carnal
  •  bodily
  •  substantial
  •  catered for
  •  crammed
  •  big deal
  •  physical
  •  fattened up
  •  dished out
  •  force-fed
  •  boarded
  •  concrete
  •  real
  •  dreadful
  •  heavy
  •  fed up
  •  given food to
  •  cooked for
  •  filled
  •  capable of being touched
  •  healthy
  •  catered
  •  tangible
  •  feed
  •  corporeal
  •  bad-looking
  •  indelicate
  •  gave food to

Overall, the word ethereal means having a celestial quality. This word is Greek and Latin in origin.


  1. ethereal: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Ethereal synonyms – 965 Words and Phrases for Ethereal | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Ethereal antonyms – 172 Opposites of Ethereal | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Ethereal definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. ethereal | Origin and meaning of ethereal | Online Etymology Dictionary
  6. Ethereal | Definition of Ethereal | Merriam-Webster