Definition of glacial in English:



  • 1Relating to or denoting the presence or agency of ice, especially in the form of glaciers.

    ‘thick glacial deposits’
    ‘a glacial lake’
    • ‘In contrast, glacial and periglacial deposits, such as dropstones, were formed at high latitudes; these are notably important in the late Carboniferous and early Permian.’
    • ‘When the glaciers melted and receded, the copper and rock were dropped from the ice sheets and became part of the glacial deposits.’
    • ‘We propose that the last glacial maximum Welsh Ice Cap formed part of a much larger and more dynamic British-Irish Ice Sheet.’
    • ‘During cold glacial times, desert regions become more arid and the production of silt increases and its transportation is enhanced.’
    • ‘The vivianite occurs in dark brown and dark gray beds of glacial silt and clay.’
    • ‘Gypsum crystals are present, occurring in Pleistocene glacial lake beds of bluish-gray silt and clay that are exposed along the banks of the creek.’
    • ‘It is unknown how many more veins that occur in this area may contain worldclass specimens because most of the land is covered with glacial till deposits and outcrops are scarce.’
    • ‘Reference is made to the dating presence of shells and glacial deposits, and the burial chronology and body size reduction evidence.’
    • ‘In the last million years, the Earth has been through seven glacial cycles, the last of which - named the Holocene - began 10,000 years ago.’
    • ‘We have 420,000 years of climate history at our fingertips, covering the last four glacial and interglacial cycles.’
    • ‘Like glacial terminal moraines, these population groups represented deposits resulting from four centuries of immigration.’
    • ‘The plains and valleys here often consist of glacial moraine or deposits from ancient lakes.’
    • ‘Fifteen glacial tongues of ice can be seen without leaving your car.’
    • ‘In some sections these high values declined to more moderate values just below the glacial deposits.’
    • ‘A body embedded in glacial ice - what else could this be but the gruesome record of a climbing accident?’
    • ‘The new work confirms the stable relationship between Antarctic climate and the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide and methane during the last four glacial cycles.’
    • ‘From the 3,000 foot glacial valley where the plane dropped us off, we went after our first slopes, undulating falls that one of the many Vinson ice tributaries.’
    • ‘These processes can be observed occurring in the near-surface at present and have also affected late Devensian and pre-late Devensian glacial deposits.’
    • ‘Although this may not sound like a large increase, it may be enough to affect the rate of glacial melting, raising sea levels, and to otherwise have an impact on the earth's climate.’
    • ‘Several minerals, classified as drift minerals in this article, are present in Pleistocene glacial deposits.’
    • ‘Later he became strongly opposed to the theory that proglacial lakes were formed by the agency of huge glacial dams.’
    1. 1.1 Very cold; icy.
      ‘glacial temperatures’
      figurative ‘his glacial blue eyes’
      • ‘Dozens of icebergs, each a few feet high, float lazily, their whiteness turning to a glacial blue in the depths.’
      • ‘But his glacial blue eyes reflect a glint of triumph.’
      • ‘I could see across the flood plain towards rivers of blue glacial ice cascading down from the flanks of distant mountains.’
      • ‘He wondered if Clara had packed her blue satin dress - no it still clung to the wardrobe hook, like ice, glacial blue.’
      • ‘Throughout the world lie lush forests, arid deserts, glacial mountains.’
      • ‘A glacial frigidity has taken the place of the wild party.’
      • ‘He looked at the angry, confused faces on the screen frozen against a glacial blue sky.’
      • ‘As the car slowly rolled past him, he raised his bowl to the window, not speaking, and stared at me for a moment with celestial, incomprehensible, glacial blue eyes.’
      • ‘This dispassionate view of man and nature brings an icy edge to his work, intensified by her color choice of glacial whites and gelid blues.’
      • ‘His sword continued to blaze, its hilt now a shapeless mass of brilliant glacial blue light.’
      • ‘We climbed slowly towards the Katantika Pass, inching towards the magnificent, glaciated summits of Presidente and Flor, their white snow tinged with glacial blue.’
      • ‘She leaned back and looked into the glacial blue of his eyes.’
      • ‘The Supreme Court could accept it, but I expect that anyone that would appeal wouldn't just have a chilly reception, but a perfectly glacial reception.’
      • ‘His blue eyes were the color of glacial ice and his black hair was as dark as space.’
      • ‘The movie's emotional trajectory is also from hot to cold, earth tones to glacial whites.’
      freezing, bitterly cold, icy, ice-cold, sub-zero, frozen, wintry
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Extremely slow (like the movement of a glacier)
      ‘an official described progress in the talks as glacial’
      • ‘The pace of life in the deep sea is literally glacial, species grow extremely slowly and they live to extraordinary ages.’
      • ‘He hired his grandsons by the hour to dispose of brush, and was surprised and outraged at the studied, glacial pace of their movements.’
      • ‘If a would-be spammer had to perform one second of computation for each person he spammed, the pace of spam would slow to glacial.’
      • ‘Can this glacial movement towards an uncertain goal even warrant the term ‘progress’?’
      • ‘Corporate movements are glacial and update stories are boring, boring, boring (as you are about to find out).’
  • 2Chemistry
    Denoting pure organic acids (especially acetic acid) which form ice-like crystals on freezing.

    • ‘Fixing was performed in a mixture of glacial acetic acid and methyl alcohol at a ratio of 1: 3.’
    • ‘Excised buds (10 for each sample) were fixed in absolute ethanol: glacial acetic acid.’
    • ‘After incubation at 30°C for 90 s, the reaction was stopped by the addition of 1.0 ml glacial acetic acid, and was stirred vigorously.’
    • ‘The term superacids was introduced into the chemical literature in 1927 by James Conant and Norris Hall to describe solutions of sulfuric or perchloric acid in glacial acetic acid.’
    • ‘For this reason, pure acetic acid is known as glacial acetic acid.’


  • A glacial period.

    • ‘This then provides the opportunity for Milankovich cycles to become the pacemaker of the ice ages, causing alternating glacials and interglacials.’
    • ‘But if the present glacial comes it will be the real disaster; forget global warming, global cooling's the real one.’
    • ‘The climate was cooler than today but warmer than a full glacial, with sand and silt forming in shallow, flowing water in the form of sheet-wash or in ephemeral channels.’
    • ‘Denny said he had never seen this much glacial till on an iceberg.’
    • ‘There have been a number of cold periods (glacials or ice ages), punctuated by warmer periods, of which we are living in one.’


Mid 17th century: from French, or from Latin glacialis ‘icy’, from glacies ‘ice’.