angel

angel
/ayn"jeuhl/, n.
1. 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).
2. a conventional representation of such a being, in human form, with wings, usually in white robes.
3. a messenger, esp. of God.
4. a person who performs a mission of God or acts as if sent by God: an angel of mercy.
5. a person having qualities generally attributed to an angel, as beauty, purity, or kindliness.
6. a person whose actions and thoughts are consistently virtuous.
7. an attendant or guardian spirit.
8. a deceased person whose soul is regarded as having been accepted into heaven.
9. Informal. a person who provides financial backing for some undertaking, as a play or political campaign.
10. 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.
11. Slang. an image on a radar screen caused by a low-flying object, as a bird.
v.t.
12. Informal. to provide financial backing for.
[bef. 950; 1890-95 for def. 9; ME a(u)ngel ( < AF, OF) < LL angelus < NT Gk ángelos messenger of God, special use of Gk ángelos messenger; r. OE engel < L, as above]

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Primarily in Western religions, any of numerous benevolent spiritual beings who mediate between heaven and earth.

They often serve as messengers or servants of God or as guardians of an individual or nation. In Zoroastrianism the amesha spenta are arranged in a hierarchy of seven. Judaism and Christianity base their notion of angels on references in the Hebrew scriptures to divine servants and to the heavenly hosts. Two archangels (Michael and Gabriel) are mentioned in the Old Testament and two others (Raphael and Uriel) in the Apocrypha. Angels are mentioned throughout the Christian scriptures, and Christian tradition identifies nine orders of angels. Islam's hierarchy of angels descends from the four throne bearers of God to the cherubim who praise God, the four archangels, and lesser angels such as the ḥafaẓah (guardian angels). See also cherub; seraph.

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Universalium. 2010.

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