From Middle English erthely, erthlich, ierðlich, from Old English eorþlīċ, corresponding to earth +‎ -ly. Cognate with Old Norse jarðligr (earthly).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈəːθli/
  • (file)


earthly (comparative earthlier, superlative earthliest)

  1. Relating to the earth or this world, as opposed to heaven; terrestrial.
    earthly joys
    • (Can we date this quote?)
      This earthly load / Of death, called life.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Bible, Phil. iii. 19
      whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things
  2. (negative, informal) Used for emphasis
    • (Can we date this quote by Alexander Pope and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      What earthly benefit can be the result?
  3. (obsolete) Made of earth; earthy.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Holland to this entry?)


See alsoEdit


earthly (plural earthlies)

  1. (collective or in the plural) That which is of the earth or earthly; a terrestrial being.
    • 2018, Tamar M. Boyadjian, The City Lament: Jerusalem across the Medieval Mediterranean, Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, page 28:
      He claims that the book directs the believer to let go of the earthly and await God's kingdom in the heavenly.
    • [1844], Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The Virgin Mary to the Child Jesus”, in Mrs. Browning's Poems with Memoir, Chicago & New York: Henneberry, page 267:
      So, let all earthlies and celestials wait / Upon Thy royal state! / Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:earthly.
  2. (Britain, colloquial) A slightest chance (of success etc.) or idea (about something).
    • 1974, GB Edwards, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, New York 2007, p. 315:
      ‘Then I didn't have a chance when I stood you a drink?’ I said. ‘Not an earthly!’ she said and laughed; but when I left she kissed me good-night.


earthly (comparative more earthly, superlative most earthly)

  1. in an earthly manner
    • 1827, Sarah Wilmot Wells, Tales; Mournful, Mirthful, and Marvellous - Volume 3, page 94:
      and dost thou, indeed, revive to existence only to again (even in more attempered blood) design the death of the innocent, helpless, orphaned memorial of a pure, a heaven and earthly-sanctioned flame, whose venial trespass was but the forestalment of your own decree?
    • 1886, Thomas Martin McWhinney, Reason and Revelation, Hand in Hand, page 324:
      And here again we observe the great advantage of the heavenly over the earthly appointed courts.
    • 1927, Harriette Augusta Curtiss, The Message of Aquaria, page 431:
      Under such circumstances it is wise that church and state be separated, for such an earthly ordained priesthood has no more ability to rule wisely than have civil rulers.
    • 2010, Patricia Ann Sunday, Jimmy Swaggart: the Anointed Cherub That Covereth, page 1:
      The Lord has allowed me to see a striking similarity between this heavenly anointed cherub and this earthly anointed cherub (messenger) of God.
    • 2016, Bruce W. Hubbard, ‎Marlene Hubbard, The Way of Grace:
      Qualifications are heavenly ordained, not earthly appointed; it is God Who has qualified us as saints and made us fit to share in His eternal salvation. It is not our own efforts and accomplishments that have qualified us;

Further readingEdit