Definition of rarefied in US English:


(also rarified)


  • 1(of air, especially that at high altitudes) of lower pressure than usual; thin.

    • ‘The rarefied air requires a mandatory period of two or three days enforced rest on arrival in order to ward off headaches and mountain sickness.’
    • ‘At almost 5,000 ft, it is surrounded by rarefied air, seductive silence and dreamy peaks.’
    • ‘Thousands of feet above sea level, the air is clear but rarefied.’
    • ‘She did not seem to like the rarefied atmosphere over the Atlantic and proceeded to drop her oxygen level to 30% on a regular basis.’
    • ‘The Moon has no atmosphere; the Martian atmosphere is highly rarefied.’
    • ‘Being 1,200 m above sea level, the climate is ideal for temperate fruits and vegetables which, like the people in the area, thrive on the somewhat rarefied air and the misty surroundings.’
    • ‘That is more rarefied than the near vacuum in a television cathode ray tube.’
    • ‘How does it feel to be breathing such rarefied air?’
    • ‘At 4900m Konzke La is the highest point of this trail; all but the fittest puff and pant in such rarefied air.’
    • ‘Early attempts on the summit failed because of equipment and inexperience, but mainly because the rarefied air at altitude contains just a third of the oxygen of air at sea level.’
    • ‘Playing at home in the rarefied air of Mexico City (7,710 feet above sea level), the Mexicans just don't lose.’
    • ‘Denver's rarefied air adds about 10 percent to the length of fly balls, making extra base hits too easy.’
    • ‘Everest conquest today is often more a triumph of modern equipment, where anyone with the money and the inclination can gulp that highly addictive, rarefied air.’
    • ‘When pitcher Mike Hampton signed with the Colorado Rockies, many people wondered aloud whether he would fall victim to the rarefied air of the Mile High city.’
    • ‘To sustain this kind of stamina, they are exquisitely adapted to the rarefied mountain air of their high-altitude stomping grounds.’
  • 2Distant from the lives and concerns of ordinary people.

    ‘debates about the nature of knowledge can seem very rarefied’
    • ‘At the beginning of the 1960s a scholarship boy attends a rarefied private school obsessed with literature.’
    • ‘But unlike the tradition of poetry as a rarefied pursuit, the Liverpool poets took their writing to the stage and rapidly developed a huge following.’
    • ‘She portrays him as an outsider in the rarefied academic atmosphere of Oxford university.’
    • ‘If that is forfeited, the mind can all too easily float off into rarefied realms that, lofty as they might be, are but a shadow of the consciousness that meditation practices are designed to reveal.’
    • ‘Naturally I sat up to see what has been happening in the rarefied atmosphere of academia.’
    • ‘She grew up in a rarefied world of private girls' schools and arranged marriages.’
    • ‘Hawking's idea of science is that of a rarefied discipline far above the heads of ordinary people and definitely superior to all competing forms of knowledge.’
    • ‘Fussy high-end clients might not think Ikea impressive or exclusive enough for their rarefied tastes.’
    • ‘The action takes place in the 1960s, but the girls' private dramas unfold in a rarefied world, isolated from the political turmoil going on outside.’
    • ‘The lad and devoted dad must overcome corruption and indifference as they strive to make it in the rarefied world of the concert musician without connections.’
    esoteric, exclusive, select, private, cliquish
    View synonyms