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Definition characterized by an air-like insubstantiality


so delicate and insubstantial that it barely seems of this world — often beautiful

More rarely, but seen in older writings, ethereal can mean "heavenly or celestial" — as when Milton writes of an "ethereal messenger" in Paradise Lost. Similarly, it can mean "unworldly" or "spiritual".

In chemistry, there is a specialized meaning:  "of or related to the chemical, ether"
  • The dancer's grace, the flowing costume, and the ethereal melody created the impression that she floated through air.
ethereal = characterized by an air-like insubstantiality


so delicate and insubstantial that it barely seems of this world — often beautiful
  • physical rather than ethereal forms
  • The movie focuses on the relationship between an earthbound mortal and an ethereal spirit.
  • The tree lights cast an ethereal glow as "Silent Night" played softly on a phonograph that had been set up in the corner.
    Nicholas Sparks  --  A Walk to Remember
  • ethereal = so delicate, beautiful, and insubstantial that it barely seems of this world
  • The moonlight lent an ethereal sheen to the water, while the clouds cast shadows along the beach, making the landscape seem almost unreal.
    Nicholas Sparks  --  Message in a Bottle
  • ethereal = so delicate and insubstantial that it barely seems of this world
  • This is a time for weaving the ethereal into being, of spinning the strands of space and time to bring forth Creation.
    P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast  --  Marked
  • ethereal = things so delicate and insubstantial that they don't seem of this world
  • Mist floated just above the ground, ethereal and ghostlike;
    Nicholas Sparks  --  A Bend in the Road
  • ethereal = characterized by an air-like insubstantiality
  • She had posed with her eyebrows arched and her lips pursed a little, with a very ethereal, faraway look on her face.
    Maureen Daly  --  Seventeenth Summer
  • ethereal = in another world
  • Such I created all the ethereal Powers
    And Spirits, both them who stood, and them who fail'd;
    Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
    John Milton  --  Paradise Lost
  • ethereal = heavenly
  • I'm drifting. Sleeping? A parade of faces floats behind my closed eyes. An ethereal Robyn grins ... distorting into a vampirelike apparition.
    Ellen Hopkins  --  Glass
  • ethereal = characterized by an air-like insubstantiality
  • our angel leaves-throwing kisses, smiling ethereally
    Ken Kesey  --  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • ethereally = with a beauty that barely seems of this world
  • this smallest and most ethereal of birds
  • The queen's blazing, glacier-blue eyes were as ethereal as her lovely face.
    Sarah J. Maas  --  Throne of Glass
  • His body was frail, which made his head seem large and gave him an ethereal look.
    Ian McEwan  --  Atonement
  • The wrought-iron fencing added a spooky touch to the ethereal setting.
    Nicholas Sparks  --  True Believer
  • It was a reassuring, ethereal sound, a melodic dance on air.
    Becca Fitzpatrick  --  Hush, Hush
  • Everything took on an ethereal quality.
    Betty Mahmoody  --  Not Without My Daughter
  • He went up to where they had found it, and memories of his night came back to him, carrying the ethereal quality of a nightmare.
    Laura Hillenbrand  --  Unbroken
  • These things wouldn't have been as appealing if she had been ugly, instead of blond and ethereal.
    Margaret Atwood  --  Cat's Eye
  • They moved on up the line, ethereal, untouched.
    Michael Shaara  --  The Killer Angels

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