Word: empyrean

Pronunciation: em-PI-ree-ən / em-pə-REE-ən

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: belonging to or deriving from heaven

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


That’s right, it’s yet another word for “heavenly”! I know I’ve already featured several of these synonyms in my Word of the Week segment, but in my opinion, you can never have too broad or poetic a vocabulary when it comes to the heavens. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, what better time is there to learn new words to describe the “empyrean” beauty of love?

“Empyrean” defines what belongs to or comes from heaven. The word arose in late Middle English and can be traced back through the medieval Latin adjective empyreus “fiery” to the Greek adjective empurios “on fire”. This adjective comprises the preposition en “in” and the noun pûr “fire”.

Interestingly, while words like “celestial” and “ethereal” refer to heaven in general, “empyrean” refers to a special part of heaven. According to ancient cosmology, the “Empyrean” was believed to be the highest level of heaven where the purest light and fire existed (hence the Greek root word for “fire”). The word has since been used as a literary term for the divine realm of Paradise or simply the visible sky. So if you like to write about the highest heavens or the perfection of what seems to come from the divine, “empyrean” may be your most poetic choice!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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