From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Earthly


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English erthely, erthlich, ierðlich, from Old English eorþlīċ, corresponding to earth +‎ -ly. Cognate with Old Norse jarðligr (earthly).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈəːθli/
  • (file)


earthly (comparative earthlier, superlative earthliest)

  1. Relating to the earth or this world, as opposed to heaven; terrestrial.
    earthly joys
  2. (negative, informal) Used for emphasis
    • 1971 April 4, Robert B. Semple Jr., “The Nation”, in The New York Times[1], page E1:
      The pressures of politics and war seem remote on this lovely stretch of California coastline, but last week there was no earthly way to avoid them.
    • 2016 June 10, Michael Hitzlik, “Column: Congress continues its stealth assault on Social Security’s customer service”, in Los Angeles Times[2]:
      In fiscal terms, there’s no earthly reason for Congress to be stingy with Social Security’s administrative budget.
  3. (obsolete) Made of earth; earthy.
    • 1533, John Frith, An other boke against Rastel:
      We have this [] treasure in frail, brittle, and earthly vessels.

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


earthly (plural earthlies)

  1. (collective or in the plural) That which is of the earth or earthly; a terrestrial being.
    • 2018, Tamar M. Boyadjian, The City Lament: Jerusalem across the Medieval Mediterranean, Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, page 28:
      He claims that the book directs the believer to let go of the earthly and await God's kingdom in the heavenly.
    • [1844], Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The Virgin Mary to the Child Jesus”, in Mrs. Browning's Poems with Memoir, Chicago & New York: Henneberry, stanza 5, page 267:
      So, let all earthlies and celestials wait / Upon Thy royal state! / Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:earthly.
  2. (UK, colloquial) A slightest chance (of success etc.) or idea (about something).
    • 1925 July – 1926 May, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “(please specify the chapter number)”, in The Land of Mist (eBook no. 0601351h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia, published April 2019:
      He arched his eyebrows over the summons. "The poor devil has not an earthly!" said he. "He's lucky to have a summons. Usually they act on a warrant."
    • 1974, GB Edwards, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, New York, published 2007, page 315:
      ‘Then I didn't have a chance when I stood you a drink?’ I said. ‘Not an earthly!’ she said and laughed; but when I left she kissed me good-night.


earthly (comparative more earthly, superlative most earthly)

  1. in an earthly manner.
    • c. 1595–1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, A Midsommer Nights Dreame. [] (First Quarto), London: [] [Richard Bradock] for Thomas Fisher, [], published 1600, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
      But earthlyer happy is the roſe diſtild, / Then that, vvhich, vvithering on the virgin thorne, / Grovves, liues, and dies, in ſingle bleſſedneſſe.
    • 1827, Sarah Wilmot Wells, Tales; Mournful, Mirthful, and Marvellous, volume 3, page 94:
      and dost thou, indeed, revive to existence only to again (even in more attempered blood) design the death of the innocent, helpless, orphaned memorial of a pure, a heaven and earthly-sanctioned flame, whose venial trespass was but the forestalment of your own decree?
    • 1886, Thomas Martin McWhinney, Reason and Revelation, Hand in Hand, page 324:
      And here again we observe the great advantage of the heavenly over the earthly appointed courts.
    • 1927, Harriette Augusta Curtiss, The Message of Aquaria, page 431:
      Under such circumstances it is wise that church and state be separated, for such an earthly ordained priesthood has no more ability to rule wisely than have civil rulers.
    • 2010, Patricia Ann Sunday, Jimmy Swaggart: the Anointed Cherub That Covereth, page 1:
      The Lord has allowed me to see a striking similarity between this heavenly anointed cherub and this earthly anointed cherub (messenger) of God.
    • 2016, Bruce W. Hubbard, Marlene Hubbard, The Way of Grace:
      Qualifications are heavenly ordained, not earthly appointed; it is God Who has qualified us as saints and made us fit to share in His eternal salvation. It is not our own efforts and accomplishments that have qualified us; []

Further reading[edit]