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Unsubstantial   Listen
adjective
Unsubstantial  adj.  See substantial.






Collaborative International Dictionary of English 0.48








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"Unsubstantial" Quotes from Famous Books



... is as to the truth of this theory, I think there can be no doubt that its rival gains an enormous advantage by being able to explain why the facts are such as they are instead of being obliged to take refuge in hypothetical possibilities of a confessedly unsubstantiated and apparently unsubstantial kind. ...
— Darwin, and After Darwin (Vol. 1 and 3, of 3) • George John Romanes

... hammered out the hours upon a sounding bell. An oblong square of lofty houses of the whitest stone, surrounded by a light and beautiful arcade, formed part of this enchanted scene; and, here and there, gay masts for flags rose, tapering, from the pavement of the unsubstantial ground. ...
— Pictures from Italy • Charles Dickens

... hallowed privileges of the Roman emperor's office, were the extraordinary perils which menaced the individual officer. The office rose by its grandeur to a region above the clouds and vapors of earth: the officer might find his personal security as unsubstantial as those wandering vapors. Nor is it possible that these circumstances of violent opposition can be better illustrated than in this tale of Herodian. Whilst the emperor's mighty arms were stretched out to arrest some potentate in the heart of ...
— The Ontario Readers: The High School Reader, 1886 • Ministry of Education

... fickle, and unfounded as those of the most ordinary mortal. It is when urgency presses and danger threatens, when the need for action comes, that his mental energies are aroused, and he begins to speak, as it were, ex cathedra. Then the unsubstantial haze rolls away; and the solid features of the scene one by one appear, until, amid all the unavoidable uncertainties of imperfect information, it becomes plain that the man has a firm grasp upon the great landmarks by which he must guide his course. Like the blind, who at first saw men as ...
— The Life of Nelson, Vol. I (of 2) - The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain • A. T. (Alfred Thayer) Mahan

... its essence remains ever the same whether you call it the pot, plate, or Jug. So it is that the ultimate cause, the unchangeable Brahman, remains ever constant, though it may appear to suffer change as the manifold world outside. This world is thus only an unsubstantial appearance, a mirage imposed upon Brahman, ...
— A History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 1 • Surendranath Dasgupta

... done in the nick of time. Infantry, cavalry, and artillery, charge to the right or the left, or straight before them, dash through the enemy's front, or scour the flanks, or sweep the rear, perambulate squares, and perforate encampments, just as if the serried ranks of the Sikhs had been unsubstantial creatures of the imagination, or mist-wreaths from the "wet nullah," which a lively fancy had invested with human form and warlike panoply. But one hundred and fifty-one gallant men killed, and four hundred and thirteen wounded, sufficiently ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 59, No. 367, May 1846 • Various

... soothe Georgiana, and, as it were, to release her mind from the burden of actual things, Aylmer now put in practice some of the light and playful secrets which science had taught him among its profounder lore. Airy figures, absolutely bodiless ideas, and forms of unsubstantial beauty came and danced before her, imprinting their momentary footsteps on beams of light. Though she had some indistinct idea of the method of these optical phenomena, still the illusion was almost perfect enough to warrant the belief ...
— Short-Stories • Various

... forests and the caves, abandoned mankind for the wild things of nature. And at the same time would there recur to one's memory poems concerning the blind and the poor-in particular, the poem concerning Alexei the Man of God, and all the multitude of other fair, but unsubstantial, forms wherein Russia has embodied her sad and terrified soul, her humble and protesting grief. Yet it was a process to depress one almost ...
— Through Russia • Maxim Gorky

... blueberries and bilberries, and the wonderful green mosses in all the wetter places; and, above and around all, the great mountain chains veiled in pale, ethereal atmosphere, and rising in it as airy and unsubstantial as if they could tremble in unison with every thrill ...
— The Squire of Sandal-Side - A Pastoral Romance • Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

... out of the French Romantic School. The episode of Troilus and Briseide in Benoit's Roman de Troie is one of the best passages in the earlier French romance; light and unsubstantial like all the work of that School, but graceful, and not untrue. It is all summed up in the monologue of Briseide at the end of her story ...
— Epic and Romance - Essays on Medieval Literature • W. P. Ker

... break from its solid mass, and, by the lightning, to assume quaint and vast mimicries of human or of monster shapes, striding across the gloom, hurtling one upon the other, and vanishing swiftly into the turbulent abyss of shade; so that, to the eyes and fancies of the affrighted wanderers, the unsubstantial vapors were as the bodily forms of gigantic foes—the agents of terror ...
— The Last Days of Pompeii • Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

... not yet ripened their minds to the acceptance of his proposition. In their written replies, submitted a few days afterward, two thirds of them united in a qualified refusal, which, while recognizing the President's patriotism and reiterating their own loyalty, urged a number of rather unsubstantial excuses. The minority replies promised to submit the proposal fairly to the people of their States, but could of course give no assurance that it would be welcomed by their constituents. The interview itself only served to confirm the President ...
— A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln - Condensed from Nicolay & Hay's Abraham Lincoln: A History • John G. Nicolay

... between the transcendentalists (who under one name or another have their share in all the current literature of the world), and the great body of pen-and-ink men who address the intellect and sympathies of the multitude. If not too refined, at all events too remote, too shadowy and unsubstantial, in his mode of development, to suit the taste of the latter class, and yet too popular to a satisfy the spiritual or metaphysical requisitions of the former, he must necessarily find himself without an audience, except here and there an individual, ...
— The International Monthly, Volume 3, No. 2, May, 1851 • Various

... ignorant who live in their imaginations like spendthrifts, unaware of the importance of them as the food of life, and of how necessary it is to seize upon the solider one among them for perpetual sustenance when the unsubstantial are vanishing. The great event of his bailiff's term of office had become the sun of Tinman's system. He basked in its rays. He meant to be again the proud official, royally distinguished; meantime, though he knew not that his days were dull, he groaned under ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... 1/3% of the value of the house being counted a fair annual return. But the average citizen is also a householder, because forsooth houses are very cheap. The main cost is probably for the land. The chief material used in building, sun-dried brick, is very unsubstantial,[*] and needs frequent repairs, but is not expensive. Demosthenes the Orator speaks of a "little house" (doubtless of the kind last described) worth only seven minue [about $126.00 (1914) or $2,242.80 (2000)], and this is not the absolute minimum. A very rich ...
— A Day In Old Athens • William Stearns Davis

... in his suggestion of remedies than he is in his inquiry after causes. The Federal Government, he thinks, can do little or nothing in the premises,—a fatal admission at the outset,—and we are coolly turned over to the most unsubstantial and impracticable of all reliances, "the wisdom and patriotism of the State legislatures"! Why cannot the Federal Government do anything in the premises? The President tells us that the Constitution has conferred upon Congress ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. I., No. 3, January 1858 - A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics • Various

... and is equivalent to saying—he walks in the character or likeness of a shadow, or, as we should say, he walks as a shadow. That is to say, the whole outward life and activity of every man is represented as fleeting and unsubstantial, like the reflection of a cloud which darkens leagues of the mountains' side in a moment, and ere a man can say, 'Behold!' is gone ...
— Expositions Of Holy Scripture - Volume I: St. Luke, Chaps. I to XII • Alexander Maclaren

... to an Indian powwow, who parted with them to the old witch for a gill of strong waters, at one of their dances in the forest. Furthermore, Mother Rigby produced a pair of silk stockings, and put them on the figure's legs, where they showed as unsubstantial as a dream, with the wooden reality of the two sticks making itself miserably apparent through the holes. Lastly, she put her dead husband's wig on the bare scalp of the pumpkin, and surmounted the whole with a dusty three-cornered ...
— The International Monthly Magazine - Volume V - No II • Various

... engaged in any Series of Action. Homer indeed represents Sleep as a Person, and ascribes a short Part to him in his Iliad, [4] but we must consider that tho we now regard such a Person as entirely shadowy and unsubstantial, the Heathens made Statues of him, placed him in their Temples, and looked upon him as a real Deity. When Homer makes use of other such Allegorical Persons, it is only in short Expressions, which convey an ordinary Thought to the Mind in the most ...
— The Spectator, Volume 2. • Addison and Steele

... separate and independent treatment. The ultimate connection between Dogmatics and Ethics cannot be ignored without loss to both. It tends only to confusion to speak as some do of 'a creedless morality.' On the one hand, Ethics saves Dogmatics from evaporating into unsubstantial speculation, and by affording the test of workableness, keeps it upon the solid foundation of fact. On the other hand, Dogmatics supplies to Ethics its formative principles and normative standards, and preserves the moral life from degenerating into the vagaries ...
— Christianity and Ethics - A Handbook of Christian Ethics • Archibald B. C. Alexander

... all this delightful nightmare of New York at night. Peasants and priests and all sorts of practical and sensible people are coming back into power, and their stern realism may wither all these beautiful, unsubstantial, useless things. They will not believe in the Seventh Heaven Cigar, even when they see it shining as with stars in the seventh heaven. They will not be affected by advertisements, any more than the priests and peasants of the Middle Ages ...
— What I Saw in America • G. K. Chesterton

... attract the notice of law, such as modes of dress, formalities of conversation, rules of visits, disposition of furniture, and practices of ceremony, which naturally find places in familiar dialogue, are so fugitive and unsubstantial, that they are not easily retained or recovered. What can be known will be collected by chance, from the recesses of obscure and obsolete papers, perused commonly with some other view. Of this knowledge every man has some, and none has much; ...
— The Works of Samuel Johnson in Nine Volumes - Volume V: Miscellaneous Pieces • Samuel Johnson

... this seemed unsubstantial, and I remembered these things dimly, like a dream or a story told to me in childhood; and sometimes, when recalling the past, I seemed to be thinking about ancient history—Sesostris, and the Babylonians and Assyrians, and that sort of thing. And, besides, ...
— A Crystal Age • W. H. Hudson

... as if they were walking the skies as the flies walk the ceiling. Salisbury Cathedral stands as substantial in my thought as our own King's Chapel, since I slumbered by its side, and arose in the morning to find it still there, and not one of those unsubstantial fabrics built by the ...
— The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (The Physician and Poet not the Jurist)

... nature and towering spirit to wreak their own will. Once let them give their love to man, and it is the passion of their lives. Of gossip and the wagging tongue of scandal, and of that vague, shadowy phantom, reputation, they reck not. These unsubstantial fleeting barriers are dissipated in an instant before the mighty breath of their omnipotent passion. Their love is the great fact of their lives. Why should it yield to less powerful sentiments, to inferior satisfactions. If the laws and sentiments of the commonalty of mankind oppose, ...
— The Continental Monthly, Vol III, Issue VI, June, 1863 - Devoted to Literature and National Policy • Various

... the same subdued attire in which I saw him four years ago, came gliding up the street the dark, sullen milkman; and there, too, close behind him as ever, followed his shadowy companion! It is in vain to deny it. I could feel my heart beating audibly when I beheld them, as if they were unsubstantial visitants, whose appearance I expected the grave would have interdicted from my eyes for ever. It was a dim, bitter, wintry day, and showers of sleet were drifting heavily on the fierce and angry wind, soaking the man's garments through and through, and sweeping aside the ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 56, Number 350, December 1844 • Various

... Anne's letter. That was his affair, he thought, his and Nan's; unless, indeed, it was nobody's affair but Anne Hamilton's, and he was blindly to constitute himself the unreasoning agent of her trust. That must be thought out later. If he undertook it now, piling it on the pack of unsubstantial miseries he was carrying, he would be swamped utterly. He could only drop it into a dark pocket of his mind where an ill-assorted medley of dreads and fear lay waiting—for what? For a future less confusing than this ...
— Old Crow • Alice Brown

... bird! the earth we pace Again appears to be An unsubstantial, faery place, That is fit home for ...
— Early Reviews of English Poets • John Louis Haney

... and still, An aspect wear of calm eternity. Each seems the other, as our fancies will— The cloud a mount, the mount a cloud, and we Gaze doubtfully. So everywhere on earth, This foothold where we stand with slipping feet, The unsubstantial and substantial meet, And we are fooled until made wise by Time. Is not the obvious lesson something worth, Lady? or have ...
— Poems of Henry Timrod • Henry Timrod

... wide-spreading branches a boy is intently reading. He has fallen upon a bit of transcendental writing in a magazine, and for the first time has learned that to some men the great silent world about him, that seems so real and changeless, is immaterial and unsubstantial—a vision projected by the soul upon illimitable space. On the instant all things are smitten with unreality; the solid earth sinks beneath him, and leaves him solitary and awestruck in a universe that is a dream. He cannot understand, but he feels ...
— Under the Trees and Elsewhere • Hamilton Wright Mabie

... me," she reflected, as she entered the Piazza Signoria and looked nonchalantly at its marvels, now fairly familiar to her. The great square was in shadow; the sunshine had come too late to strike it. Neptune was already unsubstantial in the twilight, half god, half ghost, and his fountain plashed dreamily to the men and satyrs who idled together on its marge. The Loggia showed as the triple entrance of a cave, wherein many a deity, shadowy, but immortal, looking ...
— A Room With A View • E. M. Forster

... with him; he has no more prudential prospective reasonings. His wife, the only being who could have had any seat in his affections, dies; he puts on despondency, the final heart-armour of the wretched, and would fain think every thing shadowy and unsubstantial, as indeed all things are to those who cannot regard them as ...
— Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher • S. T. Coleridge

... and what Robert stoutly maintains, though you can't see a scratch or a mark or anything to indicate that such means had been used. No, major," and the doctor shook his head ominiously. "I—I have another theory, but it's one too shadowy, too unsubstantial to speak of. It ...
— 'Laramie;' - or, The Queen of Bedlam. • Charles King

... overwhelming forces of secular interests combined with intellectual progress had not as yet set limits on ecclesiastical encroachment. The dread lest Europe should succumb to Rome, now proved by subsequent events an unsubstantial nightmare, was real enough for this Venetian friar, who ran daily risk of assassination in down-trodden servile Italy, with Spanish plots threatening the arsenal, with France delivered into the hands of Florentines and casuists, with England in the grip of Stuarts, ...
— Renaissance in Italy, Volumes 1 and 2 - The Catholic Reaction • John Addington Symonds

... (1202-1241), at a time when the German kingdom was too weak and distracted to intervene to save its seaboard; but the treachery of a vassal and the loss of one great battle sufficed to plunge this unwieldy, unsubstantial empire in the dust. (See VALDEMAR ...
— Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 2 - "Demijohn" to "Destructor" • Various

... them all; so that they serve well enough to represent the dim, unsatisfactory remembrances that dead people might be supposed to retain from their past lives, mixing them up with the ghastliness of their unsubstantial state. I dwell the more upon these trifles, and do my best to give them a mockery of importance, because, if these are nothing, then all this elaborate contrivance and mighty piece of work has been wrought in vain. The ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Volume 11, Issue 67, May, 1863 • Various

... sounded; and certainly it sometimes happened that, even in his most domestic colloquialisms, my mother was in doubt whether he was the simple, straightforward person he was mostly taken for. There was, indeed, a kind of suppressed, subtle irony about him, too unsubstantial to be popularly called humor, but dimly implying some sort of jest, which he kept all to himself; and this was only noticeable when he said something that sounded very grave, or appeared to the grave very ...
— The Caxtons, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... However, that unsubstantial shadow, a name, is often more durable than the thing, especially in rural parts; but, indeed, what is there in a name for Time's teeth to ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 17, No. 101, March, 1866 • Various

... dusk down in the busy city for young Hildegarde whom he loved; the days before that when he sat smoking far into the night in the gloomy old Button house on Monroe Street with his grandfather-all these had faded like unsubstantial dreams from his mind as though they had never been. He did ...
— Tales of the Jazz Age • F. Scott Fitzgerald

... slaughter the greatest part of their cattle, and preserve the flesh, either smoked, or dried in the sun. On the sudden emergency of a hasty march, they provide themselves with a sufficient quantity of little balls of cheese, or rather of hard curd, which they occasionally dissolve in water; and this unsubstantial diet will support, for many days, the life, and even the spirits, of the patient warrior. But this extraordinary abstinence, which the Stoic would approve, and the hermit might envy, is commonly succeeded by the most voracious indulgence of appetite. The wines of a happier climate are the most grateful ...
— The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 2 • Edward Gibbon

... imperial ambassador, in July 1677, complained of the No Popery cry, they replied that there was no question of religion, but of liberty. In the case of Oates and his comrades, the political motive faded into insignificance beside the religious. At first the evidence was unsubstantial. Oates was an ignorant man, and he obtained credit only by the excitement and distrust caused by the discovery of the premeditated coup d'etat. Godfrey, the magistrate who conducted the inquiry, warned James ...
— Lectures on Modern history • Baron John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

... gossiping crowd, viewed as seamen, seemed at first more unsubstantial than so many shadows. But at length he found a fascination in the sight of those men, in their appearance of doing so well on such a small allowance of danger and toil. In time, beside the original disdain there grew up slowly another sentiment; and suddenly, ...
— Lord Jim • Joseph Conrad

... from some secret and unexpressed understanding among us, he was never made a bailie; for he was not liked; having none of that furthy and jocose spirit so becoming in a magistrate of that degree, and to which the gifts of gravity and formality make but an unsubstantial substitute. He was, on the contrary, a queer and quistical man, of a small stature of body, with an outshot breast, the which, I am inclined to think, was one of the main causes of our never promoting ...
— The Provost • John Galt

... and in a few days died at Turin, universally lamented on account of his great and amiable qualities. The earl of Warwick and Holland, who accompanied him as a volunteer, shared his fate in being wounded and taken prisoner; but he soon recovered his health and liberty. This victory was as unsubstantial as that of Landen, and almost as dear in the purchase; for the confederates made an obstinate defence, and yielded solely to superior number. The duke of Savoy retreated to Moncalier, and threw a reinforcement into Coni, which Catinat would not venture to ...
— The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.II. - From William and Mary to George II. • Tobias Smollett

... and her detriment. If Wilbur had been as vigorous in body as he ought to have been, would he have died? She had read somewhere lately that physical delicacy was apt to react on the mind and make one's ideas too fine-spun and unsubstantial. Here was the advantage which a man like Mr. Lyons had over Wilbur. He was strong and thickset, and looked as though he could endure hard work without wincing. So could she. It was a great boon, an essential of effective manhood or womanhood. These thoughts ...
— Unleavened Bread • Robert Grant

... sitting-room with the placid Barwick baby drowsing in her lap, and at last her face reflected the nervous uneasiness of the other women. Every time an especially heavy rush of rain or wind struck the unsubstantial little house, Mrs. Barwick said, "Oh, my!" in patient, hopeless terror, and the two young women looked at each other with a ...
— The Heart of Rachael • Kathleen Norris

... putting half or a quarter as many of ourselves into their places. The change would be beneficial to both parties. We, in our dry atmosphere, are getting too nervous, haggard, dyspeptic, extenuated, unsubstantial, theoretic, and need to be made grosser. John Bull, on the other hand, has grown bulbous, long-bodied, short-legged, heavy-witted, material, and, in a word, too intensely English. In a few more centuries he will be the earthliest creature that ever the earth ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 10, Number 60, October 1862 • Various

... the loss of his temporal dominion, but he was powerless to prevent it. His sole hope of indemnity lay in a possible intervention of the Catholic powers in his behalf—a hope which by Prussia's defeat of France and the downfall of the Emperor Napoleon III. was rendered extremely unsubstantial. The possibility of intervention was, however, sufficiently considerable to occasion real apprehension on the part of Victor Emmanuel and of those attached to the interests of the young nation. In part to avert complications abroad, as well as with an honest purpose to adjust ...
— The Governments of Europe • Frederic Austin Ogg

... create began to die; the dream scenery of his ill-controlled mental life more and more seldom took shape of words on paper; and there came a time when thought grew wholly wordless for him; a mere personal pleasure, selfish, useless, unsubstantial as the glimmer of mirage over ...
— Children of the Mist • Eden Phillpotts

... he was that there was another side to the moon. His intellectual conviction was complete. Only, beside the living, breathing—occasionally coughing—reality of Phoebe, God was something as unsubstantial as ...
— Soul of a Bishop • H. G. Wells

... alone, Heard the loud nightjar spin his pleasant note, And seen the wild rose folded up for sleep, And whispered, though the soft word choked my throat, Your dear name out across the valley deep. Be near to me, for now I need you most. To-night I saw an unsubstantial flame Flickering along those shadowy paths, a ghost That turned to me and answered to your name, Mocking me with a wraith of far delight. ... My lovely one, be near to ...
— Georgian Poetry 1918-19 • Various

... their eternal home. I have thought that as our Blessed Redeemer's arms were extended wide on the cross to embrace perishing sinners, so do these short-sighted mortals extend their arms and their wishes in grasping unsubstantial vanities, and that craving one of Mammon, the most fascinating of all, as it ...
— Memoir and Diary of John Yeardley, Minister of the Gospel • John Yeardley

... thought, to think of this liquid gaseous juice, which we call water, trickling in the cracks of the earth! And just as the fish that live in it think of it as their world, and have little cognisance of what happens in the acid, unsubstantial air above, except the occasional terror of the dim, looming forms which come past, making the soft banks quiver and stir, so it may be with us; there may be a great mysterious world outside of us, of which we sometimes see the dark ...
— The Thread of Gold • Arthur Christopher Benson

... these themes have taken such hold of my imagination, that I cannot sleep. The room in which I sit is just fitted to foster such a state of mind. The walls are hung with tapestry, the figures of which are faded, and look like unsubstantial shapes melting away from sight. Over the fire-place is the portrait of a lady, who, according to the housekeeper's tradition, pined to death for the loss of her lover in the battle of Blenheim. She has a most pale and plaintive ...
— Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists • Washington Irving

... beaten on the morrow, the Finns cast snow upon the ground and made it look like a mighty river. So the Swedes, whose eyes were utterly deluded, were deceived by their misjudgment, for it seemed the roaring of an extraordinary mass of waters. Thus, the conqueror dreading the unsubstantial phantom of the waters, the Finns managed to escape. They renewed the war again on the third day; but there was no effective means of escape left any longer, for when they saw that their lines were falling back, they surrendered to the conqueror. Arngrim imposed on them the following terms ...
— The Danish History, Books I-IX • Saxo Grammaticus ("Saxo the Learned")

... an indispensable factor in his progress, which is his life and very being. But all the same, this is sometimes put in such a way as to make action, or at least human action, a dispensable accident in the universe, an ineffective and unsubstantial unreality, while at the same time those who put it thus, profess to see through the illusion and to enjoy moments of insight which recognize its nullity. This way of putting it in my judgement intolerably ...
— Progress and History • Various

... to secure a dominion of very long duration over a manly and well-constituted mind, which is itself desirous to will its freedom. The memory of Augusta had long faded from Josiah's thoughts, or was remembered only as a pleasing, but melancholy and unsubstantial dream, while he was straining forward in pursuit of a yet nobler and coyer mistress, in a word, of ...
— St. Ronan's Well • Sir Walter Scott

... potatoes? Surely he must have been able to do something. Had it never happened that he did some good by mistake? Perhaps that would answer the purpose. Or had he been the mere shape and appearance of a man, and nothing more? He had vanished like a shadow; was he as unsubstantial? Were they not mistaken in supposing he had lived among them! ...
— The Lost Hunter - A Tale of Early Times • John Turvill Adams

... which, though of noble quality, have not yet been moulded to any exquisite refinement by the perfecting of the virtues—I mean, the love of glory—and fame for high services rendered to the commonweal. And yet consider with me how poor and unsubstantial a thing this glory is! The whole of this earth's globe, as thou hast learnt from the demonstration of astronomy, compared with the expanse of heaven, is found no bigger than a point; that is to say, if measured by the vastness ...
— The Consolation of Philosophy • Boethius

... their last linen. I wonder where the cummers will anchor their craft?'—'And I'll vow,' said another rustic, 'the wine they quaff is none of your visionary drink, such as a drouthie body has dished out to his lips in a dream; nor is it shadowy and unsubstantial, like the vessels they sail in, which are made out of a cockleshell or a cast-off slipper, or the paring of a seaman's right thumb-nail. I once got a hansel out of a witch's quaigh myself,—auld Marion Mathers, of Dustiefoot, whom they tried to bury in the old ...
— Little Classics, Volume 8 (of 18) - Mystery • Various

... occupant of this room come what may, happen what may. No terrors, real or unsubstantial, shall drive me from it: I will brave them all, and remain here to ...
— Varney the Vampire - Or the Feast of Blood • Thomas Preskett Prest

... seems now to be more unsubstantial than the fabric of a dream. I cannot think of Clara or of my mother without despair. For oh, Herbert, between me and them there seems to yawn a dishonored grave! Herbert, they talk, you know, of an attack upon the Molino-del-Rey, and I almost hope ...
— Capitola the Madcap • Emma D. E. N. Southworth

... were low, if his fancies were faint, what material have I left with which to make a story with glitter enough to hold my readers' eyes to the page: for know that mere dreams and idle fancies, and all amorous, lyrical, unsubstantial things, are all that we writers have of which to make a tale, as they are all that the Dim Ones have to make the ...
— Don Rodriguez - Chronicles of Shadow Valley • Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, Dunsany

... just as in the more solid world above ground. Sorcerers are there also, and they breed just as bad blood among the dead as among the living. All things indeed are the same except for their shadowy unsubstantial texture.[464] ...
— The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, Volume I (of 3) • Sir James George Frazer

... without, whether in the skies and air and sunset, or in the abodes of men stretching far and near till lost amid the roofs and domes of the great city, she had fixed and riveted the link of a sympathy hitherto fluctuating, unsubstantial, evanescent, undefined. Absorbed in her revery, she did not notice the deepening of the short twilight, till the servant entering drew the curtains between her and the world without, and placed the lamp on the table ...
— The Parisians, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... failed to anticipate, what has proved the power of God and the wisdom of God to the world's renovation. Such is the best preparation for still learning, how much that wears the appearance of wisdom and science unsubstantial. This best teaches so to reason soberly and conscientiously, as not to run into licentiousness the liberty of thinking. Religious zeal indeed has hitherto been little enough tempered with discretion; but ...
— The Growth of Thought - As Affecting the Progress of Society • William Withington

... the effect that the story of Paracelsus, however otherwise adapted to the creator of Pauline's lover, was entirely destitute of a Pauline. There was no opening for love. But Pauline, with all her warm erotic charms and her sparkling French prose, was the most unsubstantial and perishable thing in the poem which bore her name: she and the spirit which begot her had vanished like a noisome smoke, and Browning threw himself with undiminished ardour upon the task of interpreting a career in which ...
— Robert Browning • C. H. Herford

... loss of that, together with the lamp, did not drive the magician to despair; but magicians are so much used to misfortunes, and events contrary to their wishes, that they do not lay them to heart, but still feed themselves, to the end of life, with unsubstantial ...
— The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete • Anonymous

... his valet we listen to the eternal self-defence of superstition. Thus, desolate of belief, you sought for the permanent element of life— precisely where Pascal recognised all that was most fleeting and unsubstantial—in divertissement; in the pleasure of looking on, a spectator of the accidents of existence, an observer of the follies of mankind. Like the Gods of the Epicurean, you seem to regard our life as ...
— Letters to Dead Authors • Andrew Lang

... account and lay back in his chair. He still held tightly to the arms as though they could keep him in the world of sanity and three measurements, and only now and again released his left hand in order to mop his face. He looked very thin and white and oddly unsubstantial, and he stared about him as though he saw into this other space ...
— Three More John Silence Stories • Algernon Blackwood

... what was once a man will be heartily pilloried by his descendants. A little while ago and Villon was almost totally forgotten; then he was revived for the sake of his verses; and now he is being revived with a vengeance in the detection of his misdemeanours. How unsubstantial is this projection of a man's existence, which can lie in abeyance for centuries and then be brushed up again and set forth for the consideration of posterity by a few dips in an antiquary's inkpot! ...
— Familiar Studies of Men & Books • Robert Louis Stevenson

... sullen in their tempers, and fantastic in their religious opinions, met with arms in their hands, and by the side of the torrent discussed, with a turbulence which the noise of the stream could not drown, points of controversy as empty and unsubstantial as its foam. ...
— The Heart of Mid-Lothian, Complete, Illustrated • Sir Walter Scott

... afterwards covered with deserved ridicule as having led to anarchy, destitution, and bankruptcy, must be attributed to the exigencies of debate; for he was an advocate as well as a statesman, and occasionally gave way to the temptation of making showy but unsubstantial points. ...
— The Framework of Home Rule • Erskine Childers

... vague, unsubstantial odour that floats about, mocking every effort to identify it. It is the will-o'-the-wisp of my olfactive experience. Sometimes I meet one who lacks a distinctive person-scent, and I seldom find such a one lively or entertaining. ...
— The World I Live In • Helen Keller

... facts which are shaded off in the dim distance, and finally lost in the obscurity of unlettered antiquity. The flesh and blood heroes of the more modern times regularly and slowly pass from view, and in their places the unsubstantial worthies of dreamy tradition start up. The transition is so gradual, however, that it is at times impossible to draw the line between history and legend. Fortunately for the purposes of this volume it is not always necessary ...
— The Story of Rome From the Earliest Times to the End of the Republic • Arthur Gilman

... upward with a devout gesture of thanksgiving. I looked at him with a sort of jealous hunger gnawing at my heart. Here was another self deluded fool—a fond wretch feasting on the unsubstantial food of a pleasant dream—a poor dupe who believed in the truth ...
— Vendetta - A Story of One Forgotten • Marie Corelli

... were minded to beseech) Old things transfigures, and you hail and bless Their looks of long-lapsed loveliness once more: Till Clement's, angular and cold and staid, Gleams forth in glamour's very stuffs arrayed; And Bride's, her aery, unsubstantial charm Through flight on flight of springing, soaring stone Grown flushed and warm, Laughs into life full-mooded and fresh-blown; And the high majesty of Paul's Uplifts a voice of living light, and calls - Calls to his millions ...
— Poems by William Ernest Henley • William Ernest Henley

... Bird! the earth we pace Again appears to be 30 An unsubstantial, faery place; That ...
— Poems In Two Volumes, Vol. 2 • William Wordsworth

... But then we cannot have all we want in life, and especially such a delightful life as ours. Do you know, however deeply you love, however constant you may prove, you can never realise your ideal. It exists alone in the realms of fancy; it is as unsubstantial as a dream—in fact, it is ...
— When the Birds Begin to Sing • Winifred Graham

... unless all the humours assist it, though choler predominate; —if they will thence draw a like consequence, that when the wicked man does wickedly, he does it by all the vices together, I do not believe it to be so, or else I understand them not, for I by effect find the contrary. These are sharp, unsubstantial subleties, with which philosophy sometimes amuses itself. I follow some vices, but I fly others as much as a saint would do. The Peripatetics also disown this indissoluble connection; and Aristotle is of opinion that a prudent and just man may be intemperate and inconsistent. ...
— The Essays of Montaigne, Complete • Michel de Montaigne

... of pearl and rose and olive; and it was crowned above by opalescent clouds. The suffusion of vague hues deceived the eye; the shadows of clouds were confounded with the articulations of the mountains; and the isle and its unsubstantial canopy rose and shimmered before us like a single mass. There was no beacon, no smoke of towns to be expected, no plying pilot. Somewhere, in that pale phantasmagoria of cliff and cloud, our haven lay ...
— In the South Seas • Robert Louis Stevenson

... without warmth or light or sound, blank emptiness, for twenty million times a million miles. That is the smallest estimate of the distance to be traversed before the very nearest of the stars is attained. And, saving a few comets more unsubstantial than the thinnest flame, no matter had ever to human knowledge crossed this gulf of space, until early in the twentieth century this strange wanderer appeared. A vast mass of matter it was, bulky, heavy, rushing without warning out of the black mystery of the sky into the ...
— The Door in the Wall And Other Stories • H. G. Wells

... but empty, unsubstantial, imperfect; incapable, then, of much life from within itself, little helped by thoughts or other aid from without. The efforts made by others to operate on it were faithful, kindly, well meant, but not adapted to its individuality. The fact is, that, so far as they had any supposed basis on system, ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 108, October, 1866 • Various

... drew to an end, and the time came for my leaving Doctor Strong's. I had been very happy there, I had a great attachment for the Doctor, and I was eminent and distinguished in that little world. For these reasons I was sorry to go; but for other reasons, unsubstantial enough, I was glad. Misty ideas of being a young man at my own disposal, of the importance attaching to a young man at his own disposal, of the wonderful things to be seen and done by that magnificent animal, ...
— David Copperfield • Charles Dickens

... came floating a long, sweet, passionate cry,—a shivering moan of pain that touched the edge of joy,—a song without words, of pleading and of prayer, as of a lover, who, debarred from the possession of the beloved, murmurs his mingled despair and hope to the unsubstantial dream of his own tortured soul. The sea was calling to the earth,—calling to her in phrases of eloquent and urgent music,—caressing her pebbly shores with winding arms of foam, and showering ...
— The Treasure of Heaven - A Romance of Riches • Marie Corelli

... certain when one is frightened," she said. She moved closer to him, holding out her hand. "Here," she continued, "you are a little too shadowy, too unsubstantial, in this light, Dick. I would rather make ...
— The History of Sir Richard Calmady - A Romance • Lucas Malet

... found herself in the suburbs, in a street where coloured children were playing in the gutter, and where the houses were unsubstantial looking as rabbit-hutches, but there was a glimpse of country beyond and she did not turn back. She did not want breakfast. If she returned to Vernons by ten o'clock it would give her plenty of time to pack her things, say good-bye to Miss Pinckney and take her departure before Richard ...
— The Ghost Girl • H. De Vere Stacpoole

... said came alongside the ships came to beg and not to give. For, in all the ten days of our stay there, we could not buy ten fanegas of rice; and if they brought anything it was cocoanuts, bananas, tamalle, and other articles of the fruit kind, of very unsubstantial and ordinary quality. This will prove to be the truth, rather than what is said in opposition thereto. And when we arrived at these islands, we were in great need of food, as we had on board the fleet nothing but biscuit—and even that in small quantity, as it was carried only by the "Capitana" ...
— The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, Volume II, 1521-1569 • Emma Helen Blair

... Clear vision would be only attainable by a pure thinker who used algebra instead of language and was able to divest himself of his own humanity—that is to say, by an unsubstantial, merely objective being: a no-being, in short. In spite of reason we are compelled to think with life, and in spite of life we ...
— Tragic Sense Of Life • Miguel de Unamuno

... a sort of agony of expectation, for his non- arrival at the time expected had made his first appearance seem like an unsubstantial illusion, though Dr. May, or Mary and Aubrey, had been at the station at the coming in of each train. Margaret had recovered the effects of the first shock, and the welcome was far more joyous than the first had been, with the mixed sensations that were now composed, ...
— The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations • Charlotte Yonge

... to be. I didn't dare to hold out any hope based on so unsubstantial a theory. But the interview had this effect upon me. If the possibility remains of fixing guilt elsewhere than on Miss Challoner's inconsiderate impulse, I am ready to devote any amount of time and strength to the work. To see this grieving ...
— Initials Only • Anna Katharine Green

... narrative shows that the disciples recognized that Jesus was not a "spirit" in the sense of being an airy, unsubstantial form. They felt His body, and saw Him eat—but what of that? The laws of materialization of Astral forms make it possible, under certain conditions, that the Astral Form become so thoroughly materialized that it may not only be ...
— Mystic Christianity • Yogi Ramacharaka

... declared the One Thing to be Fire, but Fire of a mystical nature, "self-kindled and self-extinguished," the vital quickening power of the universe. It was that Universal Life, by participation in which all things have their being, and apart from which they are unsubstantial and unreal. This is the "Tree of ...
— Simon Magus • George Robert Stow Mead

... &c. 158; relaxed, unnerved, &c. v.; sapless, strengthless[obs3], powerless; weakly, unstrung, flaccid, adynamic[obs3], asthenic[obs3]; nervous. soft, effeminate, feminate[obs3], womanly. frail, fragile, shattery[obs3]; flimsy, unsubstantial, insubstantial, gimcrack, gingerbread; rickety, creaky, creaking, cranky; craichy[obs3]; drooping, tottering &c. v.. broken, lame, withered, shattered, shaken, crazy, shaky; palsied &c. 158; decrepit. languid, ...
— Roget's Thesaurus

... him until yesterday, when the office boy came in and told me a beggar child insisted on seeing me. What was my astonishment when it proved to be our goblin boy, who had been sent to ask me to come to his father; and his father was O'Meara! It all seemed as unsubstantial as a dream. I went with the child, of course. He guided me through the dark entry where I had seen him so often, in behind a great printing house, to a foul court hidden away from the street like some criminal outlaw. I will not try to describe the noisomeness of that ...
— The Jessica Letters: An Editor's Romance • Paul Elmer More

... it as quite natural and justifiable. After all, this second theory of inconstancy rested upon the first theory of supposed love, and that upon guesses and surmises, so that the whole edifice was just as shadowy and unsubstantial as it could well be. But then it is curious to see how much real torment people manage to ...
— A Canadian Heroine - A Novel, Volume 3 (of 3) • Mrs. Harry Coghill

... eternity), became tasteless and insipid—the stately halls were turned into miserable damp caverns—all the delights of the Elfin Elysium vanished at once. In a word, their pleasures were showy, but totally unsubstantial—their activity unceasing, but fruitless and unavailing—and their condemnation appears to have consisted in the necessity of maintaining the appearance of constant industry or enjoyment, though their toil was fruitless and their pleasures ...
— Letters On Demonology And Witchcraft • Sir Walter Scott

... time in a half-waking dream, partly conscious of the fantastic nature of their ideas, yet with these ideas almost as real to them as the facts of the natural world, which, to children, are at first transparent and unsubstantial. ...
— Doctor Grimshawe's Secret - A Romance • Nathaniel Hawthorne

... which would you rather not have, a skeleton Brigade or a Brigade of skeletons? This famous 86th Brigade is a combination. Were I a fat man I could not bear it, but I am as unsubstantial as they themselves. A life insurance office wouldn't touch us; and yet—they kept ...
— Gallipoli Diary, Volume 2 • Ian Hamilton

... warm clothing, nor a comfortable house. The Greek could live on a handful of olives and a sardine. His entire clothing consisted of sandals, a tunic, a large mantle; very often he went bare-footed and bare-headed. His house was a meagre and unsubstantial building; the air easily entered through the walls. A couch with some coverings, a coffer, some beautiful vases, a lamp,—this was his furniture. The walls were bare and whitened with lime. This house ...
— History Of Ancient Civilization • Charles Seignobos

... peculiar interest in whatever penal infliction might be expected to ensue. The age had not so much refinement, that any sense of impropriety restrained the wearers of petticoat and farthingale from stepping forth into the public ways, and wedging their not unsubstantial persons, if occasion were, into the throng nearest to the scaffold at an execution. Morally, as well as materially, there was a coarser fibre in those wives and maidens of old English birth and breeding than in their fair descendants, ...
— The Scarlet Letter • Nathaniel Hawthorne

... promulgated by his followers presented, it must be owned, ample scope. Romantic, indeed, as was Lord Byron's sacrifice of himself to the cause of Greece, there was in the views he took of the means of serving her not a tinge of the unsubstantial or speculative. The grand practical task of freeing her from her tyrants was his first and main object. He knew that slavery was the great bar to knowledge, and must be broken through before her light could come; that the work of the sword must therefore ...
— Life of Lord Byron, Vol. 6 (of 6) - With his Letters and Journals • Thomas Moore

... freshman became aware of the mysteries of a gate-bill, he felt more at his ease. Mr. Verdant Green learned many things during his freshman's term, and, among others, he discovered that the quiet retirement of college-rooms, of which he had heard so much, was in many cases an unsubstantial idea, founded on imagination, and built up by fancy. One day that he had been writing a letter in Mr. Smalls' rooms, which were on the ground-floor, Verdant congratulated himself that his own rooms were on the ...
— The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green • Cuthbert Bede

... nature, characteristic of early thought, was reached. "As the human body was held to live and act by virtue of its own inhabiting spirit-soul, so the operations of the world seemed to be carried on by other spirits." At this point the soul is an unsubstantial essence inhabiting a body, it has its life and activity only in connection with the body; but the step was easily taken to the further belief in spirits like the souls, but not attached to any body. The spirits ...
— History of Religion - A Sketch of Primitive Religious Beliefs and Practices, and of the Origin and Character of the Great Systems • Allan Menzies

... may remember from his essay on Mrs. Meynell, seemed to him but 'a splendid insect'; Keats, we learn from Mr. Champneys' life, seemed to him 'to be greatly deficient in first-rate imaginative power'; Shelley 'is all unsubstantial splendour, like the transformation scene of a pantomime, or the silvered globes hung up in a gin-palace'; Blake is 'nearly all utter rubbish, with here and there not so much a gleam as a trick of genius.' All this, ...
— Figures of Several Centuries • Arthur Symons



Words linked to "Unsubstantial" :   substantial, wraithlike, aeriform, aerial, ethereal, immaterial, shadowy, airy, stringy, unsubstantialize, unreal, nonmaterial, solidness, substantialness, substantiality, aery, insubstantial



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