I. noun 1. a spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God, conventionally represented in human form with wings and a long robe • God sent an angel to talk to Gideon
• the Angel of Death.
2. an attendant spirit, especially a benevolent one • there was an angel watching over me.
See also guardian angel.
3. (in traditional Christian angelology) a being of the lowest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy. 4. ( Angel) — short for Hell’s Angel. 5. a person of exemplary conduct or virtue • women were then seen as angels or whores
• I know I’m no angel.
6. used in similes or comparisons to refer to a person’s outstanding beauty, qualities, or abilities • you sang like an angel.
7. used in approval to a person who is kind or helpful •
be an angel and let us come in.
8. used as a term of endearment • I miss you too, angel.
9. (also angel investor or business angel) — a person who supports a business financially, typically one who invests private capital in a small or newly established enterprise • the longer it takes you to get your product into the marketplace, the longer it will be until the angels get their money back.
10. a financial backer of a theatrical production • every year we raise the money for the next season and we are always looking for an angel.
11. a former English coin minted between the reigns of Edward IV and Charles I and bearing the figure of the archangel Michael killing a dragon. 12. ( angels) —
‹informal› an aircraft’s altitude (often used with a numeral indicating thousands of feet)
• we rendezvous at angels nine.
‹informal› an unexplained radar echo.
II. phrases 1. the angel in the house
‹chiefly ironic› a woman who is completely devoted to her husband and family.
• it’s a bit late to be coming on like the angel in the house now.
[phrase from a poem by Coventry Patmore.]
2. on the side of the angels on the side of what is right • we’re not in the business of polluting the environment, we’re on the side of the angels.
– origin Old English engel, ultimately via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek angelos ‘messenger’; superseded in Middle English by forms from Old French angele.