Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 20, 2019 is:
ethereal • ih-THEER-ee-ul • adjective
1 a : of or relating to the regions beyond the earth
b : marked by unusual delicacy or refinement
c : suggesting the heavens or heaven
3 : relating to, containing, or resembling a chemical ether
“Like Howe’s Omniverse, van Herpen’s finale piece used aluminum and stainless steel on the skeleton, covering it with a thin layer of feathers that ruffled, turning as if graced with gust of wind. The penultimate look channeled the same ethereal vibe, featuring laser-cut strips of fabric that give the appearance of pulsating angel wings.” — Barry Samaha, Surface, 2 July 2019
“Colored Everything has an air of maturity about it. … What you’ll hear is seemingly endless layers of airy, ethereal sound that makes you wonder what kinds of instruments are being used to create such sounds.” — Jon Bodell, The Concord (New Hampshire) Insider, 18 June 2019
Did you know?
If you’re burning to know the history of ethereal, you’re in the right spirit to fully understand that word’s etymology. The ancient Greeks believed that the Earth was composed of earth, air, fire, and water, but that the heavens and its denizens were made of a purer, less tangible substance known as either ether or quintessence. Ether was often described as an invisible light or fire, and its name derives from the Greek aithein, a verb meaning “to ignite” or “to blaze.” When ethereal, the adjectival kin of ether, debuted in English in the 1500s, it referred to regions beyond the Earth or anything that seemed to originate from there.