Definition of eternal in US English:



  • 1Lasting or existing forever; without end or beginning.

    ‘the secret of eternal youth’
    ‘fear of eternal damnation’
    • ‘The idea of an omniscient, eternal, and infinite being, for example, could not be like anything the senses encountered.’
    • ‘And what are the words to this spell that confers eternal youth and an infinite capacity for self-renewal?’
    • ‘From inside, we could hear the screams of a thousand people that were being tortured, souls trapped in eternal damnation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A Christian tells you that willful sin is open rebellion that will lead to eternal damnation unless you repent.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Deeply saddened that neither way would save them from the approaching eternal damnation, she started to fix her things and go home.’
    • ‘People are always searching for the secret to eternal youth.’
    • ‘Then the soul is sent either to heaven to enjoy the fruits of a decent life or condemned to eternal hell and damnation forever.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Refusing to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and refusing the destiny he has for you, is accepting eternal damnation.’
    • ‘Thus, she wanted these moments to last forever in the way most people desire eternal youth.’
    • ‘At this time, believers and unbelievers would be judged and assigned to either eternal bliss or eternal damnation.’
    • ‘All substances occur in atomic form, each atom being eternal and indestructible.’
    • ‘It was sin, punishable by eternal damnation to hell.’
    • ‘In that world there is neither motion nor passion nor diversity, but an eternal immutable calm.’
    • ‘She adopts the Catholic Church's philosophy of 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.’
      • ‘In this interview he talks about eternal values, old men and young women, and death.’
      • ‘And does it make sense to renounce the world in search of 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.’
      • ‘It isn't a holiday when you're faced every day with the eternal question of ‘where shall we live?’’
      • ‘It's the eternal question - what would you do if money was no object?’
      • ‘These are the eternal questions and ones that astronomers continue to ask.’
      • ‘Here, then, is the definitive answer to the eternal question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’
      • ‘But on the other hand, the eternal question is: can we blame these people for not bothering?’
      • ‘Because as a human being you don't know the answers to the eternal questions.’
      • ‘Agreed, the perception of truth may vary from person to person, but there is always one eternal truth.’
      • ‘He invested his time to serve God's purpose and pursue things with eternal value.’
      • ‘And with the process comes the question: is all this relentless modernisation really appropriate to eternal truth?’
      • ‘After 25 years of deep thought, Roger believes he has answered the eternal question as to why we are here.’
      • ‘History was endlessly revised to make the present look like a confirmation of eternal, unchanging truths.’
      • ‘He linked these themes to the eternal questions of what is love, what is the good life, and what death is.’
      • ‘The eternal question is how I'm supposed to spend it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2informal Seeming to last or persist forever, especially on account of being tedious or annoying.
      ‘eternal nagging demands’
      ‘she is an eternal optimist’
      • ‘I'll hand it to 'em, they're nothing if not the eternal optimists.’
      • ‘They never became disenchanted; they were the eternal optimists.’
      • ‘The error that could trip the party up here is the eternal misconception that students demand trendiness.’
      • ‘I am an eternal optimist, so I am going to hope that it gets better.’
      • ‘So, for all of my introspection and depression, I suppose the eternal optimist inside me is not far from the surface.’
      • ‘After an eternal wait at the Chambers Street stop, we got onto a Brooklyn-bound train and collapsed in our seats.’
      • ‘I barely even notice the day going by… it's the night that's the eternal wait.’
      • ‘An eternal optimist, proprietor Robert Finch has an amazing story to tell of the vicissitudes of farming emus.’
      • ‘He waited eternal seconds as Jordan stared down at him.’
      • ‘I hate to be the eternal optimist, but it's hard for me to look at it any other way.’
      • ‘I'm an eternal cautious optimist though, and I can't be what I'm not.’
      • ‘After an eternal wait, my name was finally called to go in and have the procedure.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Only an eternal optimist could expect success in the second half.’
      • ‘Or are Americans simply this world's eternal optimists?’
      • ‘You would have had to have been one of life's eternal optimists to have entertained thoughts like those.’
      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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    3. 1.3 Used to emphasize expressions of admiration, gratitude, or other feelings.
      ‘to his eternal credit, he maintained his dignity throughout’
      • ‘Thousands of letters poured in from children with diabetes pledging their eternal gratitude.’
      • ‘To their eternal credit, the behaviour of all the crowds was excellent.’
      • ‘To Dungarvan's eternal credit they mounted a magnificent fight back when teams of lesser resolve would have folded.’
      • ‘But to Michael's eternal credit he was both polite and friendly.’
      • ‘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 Limerick's eternal credit they battled bravely, determinedly, and doggedly to the very end.’
      • ‘I don't expect eternal gratitude, or a formal thank you.’
      • ‘But to the eternal credit of the losers, they never gave up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You both have our eternal admiration!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Indeed, it is to his eternal credit that there now stand three completely renovated, refurbished and most modern schools within the parish.’
      • ‘I can't afford to pay anything, but you'll have my eternal gratitude and maybe I could knit you something.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Parents accept this is not the fault of the doctors or nurses, who inspire loyalty and eternal gratitude for the excellent treatment children receive.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With eyes as tear-filled as hers, Joel looked at her, eternal gratitude written all over his face.’
    4. 1.4the Eternal Used to refer to an everlasting or universal spirit, as represented by God.
      • ‘There is no god but He, the Living, the Eternal, Supporter of all.’
      • ‘Saving humanity is small compared to doing the will of the 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.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Eternal which resides in the atman should be known.’
      • ‘It is the masculine aspect of the androgynous Eternal.’
      • ‘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.’


  • the Eternal City

    • A name for the city of Rome.

  • eternal triangle

    • A relationship between three people, typically a couple and the lover of one of them, involving sexual rivalry.

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


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