Definition of angel in US English:



  • 1A spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God, conventionally represented in human form with wings and a long robe.

    ‘God sent an angel to talk to Gideon’
    ‘the Angel of Death’
    figurative ‘Ella, ever the angel of mercy, organized the children into baking cookies’
    • ‘Traditional Christmas cribs have shepherds, angels, kings and a variety of animals in the bit parts.’
    • ‘Flying is reflected in images of deities and winged angels carrying sacred messages and warnings.’
    • ‘He sends forth the angels as His messengers, with two, three or four pairs of wings.’
    • ‘They have the same ethereal qualities so to speak, as angels, and they're also messengers because an angel is also a messenger.’
    • ‘He believes he is an angel waiting for his wings to grow.’
    • ‘Jewish tradition emphasizes that the Torah was given not to angels but to human beings.’
    • ‘Admittedly, this vision is far removed from the Christmas angels' announcement of peace on earth and good will among men.’
    • ‘At his feet is a heavenly host of angels in white robes with harps.’
    • ‘Christ then sent his angel with the message to his servant John.’
    • ‘Flapping his great wings like a real angel of death come for the new-born he inhaled deeply, his eyes becoming two gleaming points in the dark sky.’
    • ‘The three strangers were really three angels sent by God to allow Abraham to perform the kindness he longed to do, in spite of his pain and incapacitation.’
    • ‘Against all other evidence, she was able to believe what the angel told her because she had been in the habit of believing the unbelievable all her life.’
    • ‘Like the Virgin Mary, who believed what the angel told her about God's plan of salvation, Philip also believed the angel's message.’
    • ‘According to the scriptures angels are messengers of God and visitors from heaven.’
    • ‘In fact, the angel of death has intruded on their ordinary civilian lives for more than one century now.’
    • ‘Righteous angels did appear to humans quite often throughout Bible History, but they never did it in a ‘haunting’ or obscure manner.’
    • ‘Vera is so touching that she tears at your heart and clouds your judgment as to whether she is an angel of mercy or an angel of death.’
    • ‘Mary inquired in order that we might learn from the angel concerning that conception which is a sublime matter beyond understanding.’
    • ‘I cried myself to sleep that night, but I believe God's angels were with me in that room.’
    • ‘The figures seem to fly like angels through a celestial space, painted on a great altarpiece.’
    messenger of god, divine messenger, heavenly messenger, divine being, spirit
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An attendant spirit, especially a benevolent one.
      ‘there was an angel watching over me’
      • ‘It was like I had a dark angel watching over me and caring for my well-being.’
      • ‘He hated himself for that. But he didn't cry, he never cried… as long as there was an angel watching over him.’
      • ‘The mother dedicated her time in Knock to walking around the church praying for an angel to watch over her daughter in her absence.’
      • ‘My mom tells me that an angel is always watching over me and helping me to get over the bar.’
      • ‘Good luck can be attributed to guardian spirits or angels.’
      • ‘The only thing that I could think of was that there had been an angel watching over him.’
      • ‘Perhaps he really does need an angel watching over his career, especially after splitting from his regular co-writer Guy Chambers.’
      • ‘Where angels are all benevolence and guardianship, the fairy is a good-time girl.’
      • ‘Sophie knew that if there were angels, they were watching.’
      • ‘I never had anyone who paid attention, except for the angel that's watching over me from heaven.’
      • ‘They were my family's angels and they watched over my kids so they didn't have to be taken into care.’
      • ‘She trembled in fear, and watched, as her angel, and her bully began to fight.’
      • ‘We are told this is an exploration of hope and desire, ‘a dream of an extraordinary world where angels watch over you while storm clouds gather’.’
      • ‘For a while there he thought he was in heaven and that was an angel watching him.’
      • ‘I watched as my angel flew softly up to heaven to wait to be born again.’
      • ‘Ultimately, demons are the manifested expression of our fears, while angels - and spirit guides, etc - are as real as us and are with us to help us grow.’
      • ‘You and Diana are up there, with angels watching over you, I know.’
      • ‘A parent can try to control a child's behavior by convincing the child that an angel is always watching over him or her.’
      • ‘I see the angels watching over me and Manne from the ceiling above and I look to my left and David is standing beside me and I see my mother and father, arms linked, near the open door of our bedroom.’
      • ‘Now I am your angel watching over you, guiding you, and taking care of you in my little ways.’
      messenger of god, divine messenger, heavenly messenger, divine being, spirit
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 In traditional Christian angelology, a being of the lowest order of the celestial hierarchy.
      • ‘For instance, in order to draw an angel, a pure soul in heaven, Frank Floreani shows a child's head with wings attached to the neck.’
      • ‘Man is a little lower than the angels and so was Christ as a man.’
      • ‘The third comprises the angels, whose law is Celestial.’
      • ‘Depending on what potentiality he develops, he may become a plant, an animal, a celestial being, an angel, or he may even be unified with God himself.’
      • ‘In the Western traditions they are called angels.’
  • 2A person of exemplary conduct or virtue.

    ‘I know I'm no angel’
    ‘their parents think they are angels’
    • ‘David was no angel and I would be the first to admit his faults.’
    • ‘I'm no angel on this score - I've been deeply in debt myself, but am now out of it.’
    • ‘On the other hand, I was no angel either, I knew how to give trouble and get away with it!’
    • ‘She had a bad part in her when she was on drugs, she was certainly no angel then.’
    • ‘He laughed faintly. ‘Making me out to be an angel already?’’
    • ‘At the time though I didn't know any of this and though I knew John was no angel I thought he would never hurt anyone like Aled had hurt me.’
    • ‘No one wants, or should I say, expects him to be an angel.’
    • ‘Thorpe accepts that he was no angel during the couple's marriage.’
    • ‘The word is that while this guy is no angel, the arrest is politically motivated, one group of thugs trying to take over the assets of others.’
    • ‘In this case, we are treating women like they are saints, angels, or paragons of virtue.’
    • ‘Different people brought out different sides of him, and he was known to be an angel to those he liked and a devil to those he despised.’
    • ‘We were all rascals when we were growing up, I was no angel myself, but what I did have, and still do is respect for my elders and people in authority.’
    • ‘After all, it's easy to be an angel if nobody ruffles your feathers.’
    • ‘I'm never going to be an angel and I don't want to be.’
    • ‘In the opening lines, the reader is thrust straight into the clammy, dark, bitter atmosphere of a pawnbroker's on Christmas Day, run by a man who immediately admits that he is no angel.’
    • ‘He was no angel, but he was his own person and wasn't involved with gangs.’
    • ‘I have to admit that I am certainly no angel when it comes to speed.’
    • ‘By good people I don't mean saints or angels, but people who, for all their complexity, want to do the right thing.’
    • ‘Mick Pritchard is the first to admit he's no angel.’
    • ‘I am not expecting you to be an angel and provide me with an answer, but could we just have some comments from your experience.’
    paragon of virtue, saint, gem, treasure, nonpareil
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    1. 2.1 Used in similes or comparisons to refer to a person's outstanding beauty, qualities, or abilities.
      ‘you sang like an angel’
      • ‘Her white nightshift makes her look like an angel compared to the darkly dressed men.’
      • ‘Millhauser writes like an angel: the language is taut, superbly controlled.’
      • ‘War and Peace also appear on stage as two symbolic characters - the War, dressed up like a skeleton and the Peace, dancing like an angel.’
      • ‘And they will be praying that striker Michael Ricketts - the whites' goal-scoring saviour - plays like an angel as well.’
      • ‘If Atif croons like an angel then what about Mohammad Rafi?’
      • ‘I was laughing happily and she was smiling like an angel.’
      • ‘‘You must practise like a devil, so that you can perform like an angel,’ she noted.’
      • ‘It's all guesswork this week, though, because we don't know who is able to dance like an angel skipping across the clouds, and who can only lurch around like a wonky 1930s robot.’
      • ‘Her eyes were closed and she looked like an angel.’
      • ‘She was young and pretty and about to get married and spoke French like an angel to my mind.’
      • ‘He always wrote like an angel, even though cogent political thinking did not figure among his talents.’
      • ‘He spoke of her beauty and musical talents, saying she ‘sang like an angel and played the piano beautifully’.’
      • ‘You dance like an angel, and I know you've always loved balls.’
      • ‘Advised that this was a story of star-crossed lovers, not a sociological treatise, he sighed like a prisoner and wrote like an angel.’
      • ‘No wonder he behaves like an angel, as well as playing like one.’
      • ‘The lead guitar player, Steve Mast, sings like an angel and perfects the harmonies that Higgenson presented on this CD.’
      • ‘I saw her when she had to have cloth restraints on her arms so she could not get out of bed or pull out her IV, and I saw her sleeping like an angel with her stuffed cat.’
      • ‘She looked so peaceful when she slept; just like an angel.’
      • ‘He can do most things on the golf course drive it for miles, hit the most precise of irons shots, pitch and chip with the most sublime touches, putt like an angel.’
      • ‘He really did look like an angel, but he wasn't one.’
      paragon, gem, nonpareil
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Used in approval when a person has been or is expected to be kind or willing to oblige.
      ‘be an angel and let us come in’
      treasure, saint, paragon, marvel, find, godsend, someone worth their weight in gold, something worth their weight in gold
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3 Used as a term of endearment.
      ‘I miss you too, angel’
      • ‘But why do you come down to our mere mortal plain in this weather, angel?’
      • ‘Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel.’
      • ‘I felt pretty low while I was doing this sub-menial task, but a job's a job, and you can't feed yourself, my angel.’
      • ‘‘Wish me luck, angel,’ he said before returning to his original place.’
      • ‘I'm sorry for you, my sweet angel, but lately passenger planes and jets do manage to get people from one end of the earth in under two days.’
      • ‘You are my hero, my enchanted angel, my deepest wound, my most hurtful secret.’
      • ‘Although you may inspire many an opera you should not take their plots to heart, my angel.’
      • ‘Wind winked back at the little girl mouthing ‘Be good, angel,’ and then shutting down the communication.’
      • ‘The episodes, three times a week are ONE HOUR EACH, my sweet angel!’
      • ‘She is going to give up her immortality for me, angel, what can I do to show my love for her?’
      • ‘Some days it would be lovely, others princess, cupcake, sweetie, angel, anything that popped into his mind.’
      • ‘That really applies to you and I. You're my muse, my angel.’
      • ‘You are in a dream, my angel, but when you come to me, all of this can still be yours.’
      • ‘I thank God for making me a woman who loves women and for letting me hold, for a too-brief period of time, my angel, Debbie.’
      • ‘There she was, my angel, smiling back at me ever so sweetly.’
      • ‘She was such a bright, vivacious person, my angel, my star, my baby.’
      beloved, loved one, love of one's life, dear, dearest, dear one, darling, sweetheart, sweet, sweet one, honey
      View synonyms
  • 3A person who supports a business financially, typically one who invests private capital in a small or newly established enterprise.

    ‘the longer it takes you to get your product into the marketplace, the longer it will be until the angels get their money back’
    • ‘Small-scale business owners have to think about a way to attain business loans for refinance or growth purposes from within their local communities, angel investors or any other flexible sources.’
    • ‘Angel investors put small amounts of money into companies that sometimes have already received seed funding, but are not yet at the stage to attract venture capital.’
    • ‘The funding comes from European angel investors.’
    • ‘She said the options were to join forces with a bigger-name publisher or to identify individuals such as business angels who would be prepared to make a significant investment in the venture.’
    • ‘By the same token, your company's future returns to the angels are not just financial.’
    • ‘The couple now face an exhausting search for investment from Scotland's business angels and venture capitalists before their new plan can take off.’
    • ‘Not all funds providers are the same - they can vary from corporate strategic investors to venture capitalists or business angels.’
    • ‘They now have a leading role investing alongside other venture fund managers, business angels, banks, and other finance providers.’
    • ‘Since then he's become an angel investor and advisor to startups around the world.’
    • ‘Eight years ago, the partners set out to control their own destinies and were able to do so thanks to an "angel investor" - a silent partner who'd made his own fortune in the restaurant business.’
    • ‘The network draws on the expertise of intermediaries such as lawyers, patent specialists, corporate financiers, business angels, consultants and other advisers.’
    • ‘If you want to hazard a guess at who the country's leading business angels are, you need look no further than the annual Rich Lists.’
    • ‘The company has raised $20 million in venture capital from angel investors and the three founders since its inception.’
    • ‘The venture capitalists, who generally invest bigger sums than angels, didn't bite.’
    • ‘Business angels are often more willing to invest in new ventures than traditional financial institutions.’
    • ‘The team use their expertise and contacts to lever funds from venture capitalists and business angels, though this continues to be a tough end of the funding spectrum.’
    • ‘When they approached their angel backers for more money, the investors balked.’
    • ‘My personal ambition is to make enough money from all of these ventures to exit within a foreseeable timescale and become a business angel.’
    • ‘A group of independent angel investors in Iowa will soon come together to help emerging companies find early-stage funding.’
    • ‘Equity funding can come from a variety of sources, including venture capitalists, business angels and friends and family.’
    • ‘Angels are not only institutional, they are individuals as well.’
    backer, sponsor, supporter, benefactor, subsidizer, promoter, patron
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    1. 3.1 A financial backer of a theatrical production.
      ‘every year we raise the money for the next season and we are always looking for an angel’
      • ‘We were told she was an 'angel', a theatrical term for a backer.’
      • ‘The arts have always relied on patrons and angels, whether they be private or public.’
      • ‘The angels who used to back theatrical productions for the love of the craft have given way to market-driven professionals in all art fields who insist on an art industry based on good business decisions.’
      • ‘I remember my predecessor telling a wonderfully self-deprecating anecdote of his initial activities as a theatrical angel.’
      • ‘It was akin to a backer's audition for a Broadway musical, where if the would-be theatrical angels leave humming the title tune, they will undoubtedly ante up later.’
  • 4An English coin minted between 1470 and 1634 and bearing the figure of the archangel Michael killing a dragon.

  • 5angelsinformal An aircraft's altitude (often used with a numeral indicating thousands of feet)

    ‘we rendezvous at angels nine’
  • 6informal An unexplained radar echo.


  • the angel in the house

    • ironic A woman who is completely devoted to her husband and family.

      • ‘I wrote here about sex differences that don't rely on some mythos of the ‘angel in the house.’’
      • ‘For while the sun finally shines on Arvay, it only does so once she can re-establish herself as the good mother, the benevolent angel in the house.’
      • ‘Legal notions of spousal unity and the sentimentalization of a woman's role as ‘the angel in the house’ have often served to undercut married women's agency and autonomy.’
      • ‘The stereotype of the middle-class woman as the angel in the house can easily be overplayed.’
      • ‘A woman, the letter suggests, ‘exists ‘for the other’ ‘and will be most fulfilled by serving as what feminists have called ‘the angel in the house’ who meets the needs of her husband and children.’
  • on the side of the angels

    • On the side of what is right and just.

      • ‘The police are also on the side of the angels, certainly according to a spokeswoman: ‘[People] have a legitimate right to be protesters and we will uphold their democratic right to protest.’’
      • ‘If you prefer a version of history where Scots are on the side of the angels, the British Museum argues that Elgin quite legally rescued the sculptures, prevented their destruction, and saw that they were preserved for posterity.’
      • ‘It did remind me of the Bond films, not least because Sean Connery was reprising his ‘superman’ role, even if this time he wasn't on the side of the angels.’
      • ‘We had the strongest military in the world, we had just won a ‘great’ war and we had clearly been on the side of the angels.’
      • ‘But it would be a complete mistake to think that liberals in general, and I in particular, are moved by such motives, or that we need to be reminded that America has more often stood on the side of the angels.’


Old English engel, ultimately via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek angelos ‘messenger’; superseded in Middle English by forms from Old French angele.