Definition of glacial in English:



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

    ‘thick glacial deposits’
    ‘a glacial lake’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Several minerals, classified as drift minerals in this article, are present in Pleistocene glacial deposits.’
    • ‘We have 420,000 years of climate history at our fingertips, covering the last four glacial and interglacial cycles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In some sections these high values declined to more moderate values just below the glacial deposits.’
    • ‘The plains and valleys here often consist of glacial moraine or deposits from ancient lakes.’
    • ‘Reference is made to the dating presence of shells and glacial deposits, and the burial chronology and body size reduction evidence.’
    • ‘The new work confirms the stable relationship between Antarctic climate and the greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide and methane during the last four glacial cycles.’
    • ‘Fifteen glacial tongues of ice can be seen without leaving your car.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A body embedded in glacial ice - what else could this be but the gruesome record of a climbing accident?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Later he became strongly opposed to the theory that proglacial lakes were formed by the agency of huge glacial dams.’
    • ‘Like glacial terminal moraines, these population groups represented deposits resulting from four centuries of immigration.’
    • ‘These processes can be observed occurring in the near-surface at present and have also affected late Devensian and pre-late Devensian 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When the glaciers melted and receded, the copper and rock were dropped from the ice sheets and became part of the 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 Very cold; icy.
      figurative ‘his glacial blue eyes’
      ‘the glacial mountains of New Zealand’
      • ‘A glacial frigidity has taken the place of the wild party.’
      • ‘I could see across the flood plain towards rivers of blue glacial ice cascading down from the flanks of distant mountains.’
      • ‘She leaned back and looked into the glacial blue of his eyes.’
      • ‘The movie's emotional trajectory is also from hot to cold, earth tones to glacial whites.’
      • ‘His sword continued to blaze, its hilt now a shapeless mass of brilliant glacial blue light.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He wondered if Clara had packed her blue satin dress - no it still clung to the wardrobe hook, like ice, glacial blue.’
      • ‘But his glacial blue eyes reflect a glint of triumph.’
      • ‘He looked at the angry, confused faces on the screen frozen against a glacial blue sky.’
      • ‘We climbed slowly towards the Katantika Pass, inching towards the magnificent, glaciated summits of Presidente and Flor, their white snow tinged with glacial blue.’
      • ‘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 blue eyes were the color of glacial ice and his black hair was as dark as space.’
      • ‘Dozens of icebergs, each a few feet high, float lazily, their whiteness turning to a glacial blue in the depths.’
      • ‘Throughout the world lie lush forests, arid deserts, glacial mountains.’
      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’
      • ‘Corporate movements are glacial and update stories are boring, boring, boring (as you are about to find out).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Can this glacial movement towards an uncertain goal even warrant the term ‘progress’?’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Chemistry
    Denoting pure organic acids (especially acetic acid) that form icelike crystals on freezing.

    • ‘Excised buds (10 for each sample) were fixed in absolute ethanol: glacial acetic acid.’
    • ‘Fixing was performed in a mixture of glacial acetic acid and methyl alcohol at a ratio of 1: 3.’
    • ‘For this reason, pure acetic acid is known as 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.’


  • 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.’
    • ‘There have been a number of cold periods (glacials or ice ages), punctuated by warmer periods, of which we are living in one.’
    • ‘Denny said he had never seen this much glacial till on an iceberg.’


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