Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Being without beginning or end; existing outside of time. See Synonyms at infinite.
  • adj. Continuing without interruption; perpetual.
  • adj. Forever true or changeless: eternal truths.
  • adj. Seemingly endless; interminable. See Synonyms at ageless, continual.
  • adj. Of or relating to spiritual communion with God, especially in the afterlife.
  • n. Something timeless, uninterrupted, or endless.
  • n. God. Used with the.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Lasting forever; unending.
  • adj. existing outside time; as opposed to sempiternal, existing within time but everlastingly

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Without beginning or end of existence; always existing.
  • adj. Without end of existence or duration; everlasting; endless; immortal.
  • adj. Continued without intermission; perpetual; ceaseless; constant.
  • adj. Existing at all times without change; immutable.
  • adj. Exceedingly great or bad; -- used as a strong intensive.
  • n. One of the appellations of God.
  • n. That which is endless and immortal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Existing without beginning or end of existence; existing throughout all time.
  • Having a beginning but no end of existence or duration; everlasting; endless; imperishable: as, eternal fame.
  • In a special metaphysical use, existing outside of all relations of time; independent of all time-conditions; not temporal.
  • By hyperbole, having no recognized or perceived end of existence; indefinite in duration; perpetual; ceaseless; continued without intermission.
  • “married to immortal verse,”
  • It is sometimes applied to God (1 Tim. i. 17). Perpetual points to the future, and applies especially to that which is established: as, a perpetual covenant, desolation, feud. It is freely applied to anything that lasts indefinitely. All the four words are often used by hyperbole for that which has long duration. See incessant.
  • n. That which is everlasting.
  • n. Eternity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. continuing forever or indefinitely
  • adj. tiresomely long; seemingly without end

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin aeternālis, from Latin aeternus; see aiw- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin aeternalis, from Latin aeternus ("eternal"), from aevum ("age"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The august destiny of his own eternal city [observe -- '_eternal_,' not in virtue of history, but of prophecy, not upon the retrospect and the analogies of any possible experience, but by the necessity of an aboriginal doom], a city that was to be the centre of an empire whose circumference is everywhere, did not depend for any part of its majesty upon the meanness of its enemies; on the contrary, in the very grandeur of those enemies lay, by a rebound of the feelings inevitable to a Roman mind, the paramount grandeur of that awful Republic which had swallowed them all up.

    The Posthumous Works of Thomas De Quincey, Vol. 2

  • When we made that deal, I seem to remember the word eternal being in there, as in: eternal soul.

    Roseanne Archy

  • At my school, we say we teach what we call the eternal verities of journalism.

    Product v. process journalism: The myth of perfection v. beta culture « BuzzMachine

  • Although he desired, in some sense, to obtain what he called eternal life, the "joy thereof" had not been kindled in his cold, calculating heart.

    The Parables of Our Lord

  • Yet hold thou still, what world soe'er may roll Naught fear thee, with the Captain of thy soul; In all the eternal world, the cosmic stir, All the eternal is akin to her; She shall survive, and quick'n, and live at last When all, save souls, have perished in the blast.

    Scientific Imperialism

  • The prophets of such a God take all the glow, all the hope, all the colour, all the worth, out of life on earth, and offer you instead what they call eternal bliss — a pale, tearless hell.

    Unspoken Sermons Third Series

  • He liked in a writer what he called the eternal spirit, that is, what makes his work valuable for all time.

    Sketches from Concord and Appledore

  • Or rather let me say, the man feels in himself the elements of more, and not being able to grasp the notion of his own completeness, which is so far from him, transposes the feeling of growth and sets it beyond himself, translating it at the same time into an instinct of duration, a longing after what he calls eternal life.

    Thomas Wingfold, Curate

  • The prophets of such a God take all the glow, all the hope, all the colour, all the worth, out of life on earth, and offer you instead what they call eternal bliss -- a pale, tearless hell.

    Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II.

  • Unless repented, it is punishable by eternal deprivation of the vision of God, which we call eternal death.

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