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From Latin aetherius (“of or pertaining to the ether, the sky, or the air or upper air”), from Ancient Greek αἰθέριος (aithérios, “of or pertaining to the upper air”). By surface analysis, ether + -ial.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɪˈθɪə.ɹɪ.əl/
- (US) IPA(key): /ɪˈθɪɚ.i.əl/
Audio (US) (file) Audio (AU) (file)
- Pertaining to the (real or hypothetical) upper, purer air, or to the higher regions beyond the earth or beyond the atmosphere.
- 1667, John Milton, “Book VIII”, in Paradise Lost. […], London: […] [Samuel Simmons], […], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 1282–1284:
- Since to part, / Go heavenly Gueſt, Ethereal Meſſenger, / Sent from whoſe ſovran goodneſs I adore.
- 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. […], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, […], OCLC 21345056, pages 25–26:
- The fanciful fables of fairy land are but allegories of the young poet's mind when the sweet spell is upon him. Some slight thing calls up the visionary world, and all the outward and actual is for the time forgotten. It is a fever ethereal and lovely; but, like all other fevers, leaving behind weakness and exhaustion.
- 1885, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Man From Archangel:
- She was very young—at the most nineteen, with a pale somewhat refined face, yellow hair, merry blue eyes, and shining teeth. Her beauty was of an ethereal type.
- 1897, Robert Louis Stevenson, chapter I, in St. Ives […] , Scribner's:
- Our visitors, upon the whole, were not much to boast of; and yet, sitting in a corner and very much ashamed of myself and my absurd appearance, I have again and again tasted the finest, the rarest, and the most ethereal pleasures in a glance of an eye that I should never see again—and never wanted to.
- Pertaining to the immaterial realm, as symbolically represented by, or (in earlier epochs) conflated with, such atmospheric and extra-atmospheric concepts.
- Consisting of ether; hence, exceedingly light or airy; tenuous; spiritlike; characterized by extreme delicacy, as form, manner, thought, etc.
- Synonyms: ethereous, delicate, light; see also Thesaurus:gaseous, Thesaurus:insubstantial, Thesaurus:subtle
- 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara. […], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, […], (successor to Henry Colburn), OCLC 630079698, page 3:
- Strange mystery of our nature, that those in whom genius developes itself in imagination, thus taking its most ethereal form, should yet be the most dependent on the opinions of others!
- 1852 July, Herman Melville, “Book XXI. Pierre Immaturely Attempts a Mature Book. Tidings from the Meadows. Plinlimmon.”, in Pierre: Or, The Ambiguities, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, […], OCLC 12230558:
- He did not see […] that already, in the incipiency of his work, the heavy unmalleable element of mere book-knowledge would not congenially weld with the wide fluidness and ethereal airiness of spontaneous creative thought.
- 1876, Herman Melville, “Canto XXII. Of Rama.”, in Walter E. Bezanson, editor, Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land […], New York, N.Y.: Hendricks House, published 1960, OCLC 258028907, part I (Jerusalem), lines 17–19, page 108:
- The innocent if lawless elf, / Ethereal in virginity, / Retains the consciousness of self.
- (organic chemistry) To do with diethyl ether.
Pertaining to the hypothetical upper, purer air, or to the higher regions beyond the earth or beyond the atmosphere
Consisting of ether; hence, exceedingly light or airy; tenuous; spiritlike; characterized by extreme delicacy