Meaning of eternal in English:


Pronunciation /ɪˈtəːnl/

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  • 1Lasting or existing forever; without end.

    ‘the secret of eternal youth’
    • ‘fear of eternal damnation’
    • ‘Then the soul is sent either to heaven to enjoy the fruits of a decent life or condemned to eternal hell and damnation forever.’
    • ‘And what are the words to this spell that confers eternal youth and an infinite capacity for self-renewal?’
    • ‘The idea of an omniscient, eternal, and infinite being, for example, could not be like anything the senses encountered.’
    • ‘In that world there is neither motion nor passion nor diversity, but an eternal immutable calm.’
    • ‘All substances occur in atomic form, each atom being eternal and indestructible.’
    • ‘She adopts the Catholic Church's philosophy of eternal damnation.’
    • ‘To put it in terms of Hegel's own image: to understand God's eternal essence before the creation of the world is to understand the basis on which the world was created.’
    • ‘Thus, she wanted these moments to last forever in the way most people desire eternal youth.’
    • ‘The idea seems to be that while I have free will, I will nevertheless be punished with eternal and unspeakable suffering if I turn away from God.’
    • ‘At this time, believers and unbelievers would be judged and assigned to either eternal bliss or eternal damnation.’
    • ‘So if you thought of punching your little brother or owning all of the ice cream in the world, you were surely destined for an after life of eternal damnation.’
    • ‘It was sin, punishable by eternal damnation to hell.’
    • ‘Before he can finish his mission, he's caught by an archdeacon and told that the only way he can avoid eternal damnation is by raising the child as his own.’
    • ‘People are always searching for the secret to eternal youth.’
    • ‘Deeply saddened that neither way would save them from the approaching eternal damnation, she started to fix her things and go home.’
    • ‘Refusing to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and refusing the destiny he has for you, is accepting eternal damnation.’
    • ‘From inside, we could hear the screams of a thousand people that were being tortured, souls trapped in eternal damnation.’
    • ‘They claimed to have found the answer to eternal youth.’
    • ‘The texts are bound together with some hymns and the story of an errant monk whom the Virgin Mary saved from eternal damnation.’
    everlasting, never-ending, endless, without end, perpetual, undying, immortal, deathless, indestructible, imperishable, immutable, abiding, permanent, enduring, infinite, boundless, timeless
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    1. 1.1(of truths, values, or questions) valid for all time; essentially unchanging.
      ‘eternal truths of art and life’
      • ‘The loss of objectivity leads us to question the existence of eternal or perennial truths.’
      • ‘We can sometimes forget in the modern era that some eternal truths remain unchanged; rugby is a game for hard men and hard-nosed men.’
      • ‘History was endlessly revised to make the present look like a confirmation of eternal, unchanging truths.’
      • ‘And with the process comes the question: is all this relentless modernisation really appropriate to eternal truth?’
      • ‘I guess it's the eternal question if you're doing your own site or weblog, though - and I've seen enough discussion of it on other people's sites.’
      • ‘The eternal question is how I'm supposed to spend it.’
      • ‘Here, then, is the definitive answer to the eternal question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’
      • ‘Some things have eternal value, and compassion is one of them.’
      • ‘I, like many people, feel a need for the comfort of certainty and eternal truths, but that isn't what he and his ilk deliver.’
      • ‘These are the eternal questions and ones that astronomers continue to ask.’
      • ‘It isn't a holiday when you're faced every day with the eternal question of ‘where shall we live?’’
      • ‘And does it make sense to renounce the world in search of eternal truth?’
      • ‘But on the other hand, the eternal question is: can we blame these people for not bothering?’
      • ‘After 25 years of deep thought, Roger believes he has answered the eternal question as to why we are here.’
      • ‘It's the eternal question - what would you do if money was no object?’
      • ‘Agreed, the perception of truth may vary from person to person, but there is always one eternal truth.’
      • ‘He linked these themes to the eternal questions of what is love, what is the good life, and what death is.’
      • ‘He invested his time to serve God's purpose and pursue things with eternal value.’
      • ‘In this interview he talks about eternal values, old men and young women, and death.’
      • ‘Because as a human being you don't know the answers to the eternal questions.’
    2. 1.2 informal Seeming to last or persist forever, especially on account of being tedious or annoying.
      • ‘eternal nagging demands’
      • ‘she is an eternal optimist’
      • ‘Or are Americans simply this world's eternal optimists?’
      • ‘I'm an eternal cautious optimist though, and I can't be what I'm not.’
      • ‘This is something you see very rarely in football and you would have to be the most eternal optimist to think 3-0 down was a platform for victory.’
      • ‘I am an eternal optimist, so I am going to hope that it gets better.’
      • ‘They never became disenchanted; they were the eternal optimists.’
      • ‘Perhaps I'm an eternal optimist, but I think these films have great impact.’
      • ‘The 61-year-old, still an eternal optimist, believes he can turn adversity to his advantage.’
      • ‘An eternal optimist, proprietor Robert Finch has an amazing story to tell of the vicissitudes of farming emus.’
      • ‘He readily admits mistakes were made before he joined but, like an eternal optimist, is eager today to find a silver lining in every cloud.’
      • ‘So, for all of my introspection and depression, I suppose the eternal optimist inside me is not far from the surface.’
      • ‘You would have had to have been one of life's eternal optimists to have entertained thoughts like those.’
      • ‘The error that could trip the party up here is the eternal misconception that students demand trendiness.’
      • ‘I barely even notice the day going by… it's the night that's the eternal wait.’
      • ‘He waited eternal seconds as Jordan stared down at him.’
      • ‘I'll hand it to 'em, they're nothing if not the eternal optimists.’
      • ‘Only an eternal optimist could expect success in the second half.’
      • ‘I hate to be the eternal optimist, but it's hard for me to look at it any other way.’
      • ‘After an eternal wait at the Chambers Street stop, we got onto a Brooklyn-bound train and collapsed in our seats.’
      • ‘After an eternal wait, my name was finally called to go in and have the procedure.’
      • ‘But there is still that eternal nagging voice in the back of your head saying, ‘If I throw stuff out now, I know that someday I’ll need it.’’
      constant, continual, continuous, perpetual, persistent, sustained, unremitting, relentless, unrelenting, unrelieved, uninterrupted, unbroken, unabating, interminable, never-ending, non-stop, round-the-clock, always-on, incessant, endless, ceaseless
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  • 2Used to emphasize expressions of admiration, gratitude, etc.

    ‘to his eternal credit, he maintained his dignity throughout’
    • ‘I can't afford to pay anything, but you'll have my eternal gratitude and maybe I could knit you something.’
    • ‘I'm afraid that there wouldn't be anything in it for you other than maybe a few beers and my eternal gratitude, but I'm hoping someone will take pity on me.’
    • ‘Parents accept this is not the fault of the doctors or nurses, who inspire loyalty and eternal gratitude for the excellent treatment children receive.’
    • ‘I don't expect eternal gratitude, or a formal thank you.’
    • ‘Thousands of letters poured in from children with diabetes pledging their eternal gratitude.’
    • ‘With eyes as tear-filled as hers, Joel looked at her, eternal gratitude written all over his face.’
    • ‘My eternal thanks and gratitude to the medics for the prompt response, excellent care and caring shown to her at the time.’
    • ‘She has my eternal gratitude, straight from the heart, in coming at the right time in my life.’
    • ‘To his eternal credit, Alan confronts them in a local pub, and their response is to take offence, cause offence and feel generally outraged by his attack.’
    • ‘Indeed, it is to his eternal credit that there now stand three completely renovated, refurbished and most modern schools within the parish.’
    • ‘But to the eternal credit of the losers, they never gave up.’
    • ‘It is to his eternal credit that for five months he managed to keep up the facade, and he only quit comedy six weeks before his death, when he was physically unable to perform.’
    • ‘McGeechan, to his eternal credit I must say, insists that you cannot blame the players, but the current squad can't be exempted from criticism.’
    • ‘To Limerick's eternal credit they battled bravely, determinedly, and doggedly to the very end.’
    • ‘To his eternal credit he returned almost every year to Clonegal to visit his mother while she was alive, and still considered Clonegal his home.’
    • ‘But to Michael's eternal credit he was both polite and friendly.’
    • ‘To Dungarvan's eternal credit they mounted a magnificent fight back when teams of lesser resolve would have folded.’
    • ‘To their eternal credit, the behaviour of all the crowds was excellent.’
    • ‘It is to his eternal credit that he had the decency to do as he did, which sums up the kind of honourable official the county manager is.’
    • ‘You both have our eternal admiration!’
  • 3the EternalUsed to refer to an everlasting or universal spirit, as represented by God.

    ‘a man entirely under the sway of the Eternal and not of the material’
    • ‘According to Irenaeus he claimed to have appeared in Samaria as the Father, in Judea as the Son, and among the heathen as the Holy Ghost, a manifestation of the Eternal.’
    • ‘There is no god but He, the Living, the Eternal, Supporter of all.’
    • ‘The Eternal which resides in the atman should be known.’
    • ‘Saving humanity is small compared to doing the will of the Eternal.’
    • ‘It is the masculine aspect of the androgynous Eternal.’
    • ‘Since God suffuses all of life, film can cut through the encrusted vision with which we usually view this reality and reveal the Eternal.’
    • ‘We are not to be distracted from our purpose, which is union with the Eternal, by becoming involved in what we today call ‘the rat race.’’
    • ‘On the other hand, I have children that have a healthy outlook on Faith, and a personal relationship to the Eternal that I wish I could have had at their ages.’


    eternal life
    Christian Theology
    • Spiritual existence after death of the body.

      ‘the belief in eternal life’
      • ‘According to this view, Jesus' death made salvation and eternal life possible for others.’
      • ‘I felt at peace because God had forgiven me, and my life had a purpose and the promise of eternal life in heaven.’
      • ‘Biblically, eternal life and the resurrection of the body are essentially the same thing.’
      • ‘There would be no promise of eternal life if Jesus had not first faced sin and death.’
      • ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’
    eternal triangle
    • see triangle (sense 2 of the noun)

      ‘Clearly Hare's aim is to offer more than a few elegant variations on the eternal triangle.’
      • ‘The eternal triangle can endlessly renew itself, placing new people into the same deadly relationships.’
      • ‘It is a sort of a menage a trois, or another twist on the eternal triangle.’
      • ‘Some years ago, I witnessed a glorious soap opera in my balcony, the eternal triangle being the usual cause of it all.’
      • ‘Come As You Are was a series of four short plays united by the theme of the eternal triangle.’
      • ‘Barbara gets a little taste of karmic justice, as the eternal triangle becomes a quadrilateral.’
      • ‘The writer, the reader and the book form an eternal triangle with the book acting as the go-between.’
      • ‘Not so much the eternal triangle, more the infernal quintuplet.’
      • ‘Her actions and reactions to the eternal triangle, which developed between Mickey, Eddie and herself, were played with sensitivity.’
      • ‘Math plays no other role in the film (unless you include the eternal triangle).’
      • ‘And matters are further complicated by Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny whose love for Christine is reciprocated, so adding the eternal triangle to the equation.’
      • ‘However, equity cannot be kept in abeyance until this balance is brought about in this eternal triangle.’
      • ‘The eternal triangle, so often the diabolical shape at the centre of a murder plot.’
      • ‘A comedy set in the Vienna Prater of the 1860s, and involving an eternal triangle between a hussar, his high-born fiancée, and his former mistress, a street dancer.’
      • ‘The eternal triangle of Baby Doe and Horace and Augusta Tabor was brought to vivid life by Joanna Mongiardo, Timothy Noble and Joyce Castle.’
      • ‘Penelope told her: " It's the eternal triangle Margie, but I don't think there is any sex in it.’
      • ‘When the pantomime is over a slide show is organised by Leonard which has, unbeknown to him, been doctored with incriminating slides which would affect the original eternal triangle.’
      • ‘Playright Sridhar's directorial debut, the film looks at the eternal triangle and unrequited love, a motif common in Sridhar's films.’
      • ‘To make an eternal triangle enter the story, both Sunalini and Bhageerathi meet and fall for a young man, Chandrayya.’
      • ‘Bellini's Norma deals with the eternal triangle formed by a high priestess of the druidical temple, a virgin of the temple, and a Roman Pro-Consul.’
    the Eternal City
    • A name for the city of Rome.


Late Middle English via Old French from late Latin aeternalis, from Latin aeternus, from aevum ‘age’.