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[met-uh-fiz-i-kuh l] /ˌmɛt əˈfɪz ɪ kəl/
pertaining to or of the nature of metaphysics.
  1. concerned with abstract thought or subjects, as existence, causality, or truth.
  2. concerned with first principles and ultimate grounds, as being, time, or substance.
highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse.
designating or pertaining to the poetry of an early group of 17th-century English poets, notably John Donne, whose characteristic style is highly intellectual and philosophical and features intensive use of ingenious conceits and turns of wit.
Archaic. imaginary or fanciful.
Origin of metaphysical
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English metaphisicalle < Medieval Latin metaphysicālis. See metaphysic, -al1
Related forms
metaphysically, adverb
antimetaphysical, adjective
antimetaphysically, adverb
hypermetaphysical, adjective
nonmetaphysical, adjective
nonmetaphysically, adverb
quasi-metaphysical, adjective
quasi-metaphysically, adverb
unmetaphysical, adjective
unmetaphysically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for metaphysical
  • Historically, questions that people used to think were purely metaphysical were in fact physical as well.
  • To me, it is a place that is purely metaphysical.
  • The unsettling residue left by these stories' many paradoxes invites the reader to intellectual, moral and metaphysical inquiry.
  • Surgery stimulates the senses, both physical and metaphysical.
  • But some posters were getting into metaphysical descriptions of the cosmos based on this problem.
  • For the metaphysical and the speculative, he had no sympathy.
  • Many of the signs dotted around the site had a metaphysical cast.
  • That strikes me as a metaphysical aspiration on the part of the scientists.
  • Whichever metaphysical club you belong to, the science comes out the same.
  • But, though all this has a metaphysical reference, Blake lays most stress upon its ethical significance.
British Dictionary definitions for metaphysical


relating to or concerned with metaphysics
(of a statement or theory) having the form of an empirical hypothesis, but in fact immune from empirical testing and therefore (in the view of the logical positivists) literally meaningless
(popularly) abstract, abstruse, or unduly theoretical
incorporeal; supernatural
Derived Forms
metaphysically, adverb


denoting or relating to certain 17th-century poets who combined intense feeling with ingenious thought and often used elaborate imagery and conceits. Notable among them were Donne, Herbert, and Marvell
a poet of this group
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for metaphysical

early 15c., "pertaining to metaphysics," from methaphesik (late 14c.) + -al, and in part from Medieval Latin metaphysicalis, from Medieval Latin metaphysica (see metaphysics). It came to be used in the sense of "abstract, speculative" (e.g. by Johnson, who applied it to certain 17c. poets, notably Donne and Cowley, who used "witty conceits" and abstruse imagery). Related: Metaphysically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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