- one of a class of spiritual beings; a celestial attendant of God. In medieval angelology, angels constituted the lowest of the nine celestial orders (seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations or dominions, virtues, powers, principalities or princedoms, archangels, and angels).
- a conventional representation of such a being, in human form, with wings, usually in white robes.
- a messenger, especially of God.
- a person who performs a mission of God or acts as if sent by God: an angel of mercy.
- a person having qualities generally attributed to an angel, as beauty, purity, or kindliness.
- a person whose actions and thoughts are consistently virtuous.
- an attendant or guardian spirit.
- a deceased person whose soul is regarded as having been accepted into heaven.
- a person who provides financial backing for some undertaking, as a play, political campaign, or business venture: A group of angels entered the mix, providing George the leverage he needed to take the startup company in a new direction. Angels seek deals that they can exit in less than a decade.
- an English gold coin issued from 1470 to 1634, varying in value from 6s. 8d. to 10s. and bearing on its obverse a figure of the archangel Michael killing a dragon.
- Slang. an image on a radar screen caused by a low-flying object, as a bird.
verb (used with object), an·geled, an·gel·ing or, esp. British an·gelled, an·gel·ling.
- Informal. to provide financial backing for: Two wealthy friends angeled the Broadway revival of his show.
- a male or female given name.
- theol one of a class of spiritual beings attendant upon God. In medieval angelology they are divided by rank into nine orders: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations (or dominions), virtues, powers, principalities (or princedoms), archangels, and angels
- a divine messenger from God
- a guardian spirit
- a conventional representation of any of these beings, depicted in human form with wings
- informal a person, esp a woman, who is kind, pure, or beautiful
- informal an investor in a venture, esp a backer of a theatrical production
- Also called: angel-noble a former English gold coin with a representation of the archangel Michael on it, first minted in Edward IV’s reign
- informal an unexplained signal on a radar screen
14c. fusion of Old English engel (with hard -g-) and Old French angele, both from Latin angelus, from Greek angelos “messenger, envoy, one that announces,” possibly related to angaros “mounted courier,” both from an unknown Oriental word (Watkins compares Sanskrit ajira- “swift;” Klein suggests Semitic sources). Used in Scriptural translations for Hebrew mal’akh (yehowah) “messenger (of Jehovah),” from base l-‘-k “to send.” An Old English word for it was aerendgast, literally “errand-spirit.”
Of persons, “loving; lovely,” by 1590s. The medieval gold coin (a new issue of the noble, first struck 1465 by Edward VI) was so called for the image of archangel Michael slaying the dragon, which was stamped on it. It was the coin given to patients who had been “touched” for the King’s Evil. Angel food cake is from 1881; angel dust “phencyclidine” is from 1968.
Spirits who live in heaven with God; also the devils of hell, who are angels fallen from goodness. In the Bible (see also Bible), angels are often sent to Earth, sometimes with a human appearance, to bring the messages of God to people, to guide and protect them, or to execute God’s punishments. (See Abraham and Isaac, Annunciation, cherubim, Daniel in the lions’ den, Gabriel, Jacob’s ladder, Lot’s wife, Lucifer, Michael, Passover (see also Passover), plagues of Egypt, Satan, and Sodom and Gomorrah.)
see fools rush in where angels fear to tread; on the side of the angels.