1. of or relating to glaciers or ice sheets.
  2. resulting from or associated with the action of ice or glaciers: glacial terrain.
  3. characterized by the presence of ice in extensive masses or glaciers.
  4. bitterly cold; icy: a glacial winter wind.
  5. happening or moving extremely slowly: The work proceeded at a glacial pace.
  6. icily unsympathetic or immovable: a glacial stare; glacial indifference.
  7. Chemistry. of, relating to, or tending to develop into icelike crystals: glacial phosphoric acid.


  1. characterized by the presence of masses of ice
  2. relating to, caused by, or deposited by a glacier
  3. extremely cold; icy
  4. cold or hostile in mannera glacial look
  5. (of a chemical compound) of or tending to form crystals that resemble iceglacial acetic acid
  6. very slow in progressa glacial pace

1650s, “cold, icy,” from French glacial, from Latin glacialis “icy, frozen, full of ice,” from glacies “ice,” probably from PIE root *gel- “cold” (cf. Latin gelu “frost;” see cold (adj.)). Geological sense apparently coined in 1846 by British naturalist Edward Forbes (1815-1854). Related: Glacially.

  1. Relating to or derived from a glacier.
  2. Characterized or dominated by the existence of glaciers, as the Pleistocene Epoch.
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