Nebula vs nebulous

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Nebula and nebulous are two words that are often confused. We will examine the difference between the definitions of nebula and nebulous, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A nebula is a cloud of dust and gas in outer space, sometimes seen as a fuzzy cloud in the night sky, but mostly seen in photos taken from telescopes. The word nebula is derived from the Latin word nebula meaning fog, smoke or mist. The plural forms of nebula are nebulae, following the conventions of the Latin language, or nebulas, following the conventions of the English language.

Nebulous is an adjective that may mean relating to a nebula, but most often it is used to describe something that is vague, cloudy, hazy or indistinct. The word nebulous is derived from the French word nébuleux, that was in turn coined from the Latin word nebula.


Some of the places we can see the most unusual shapes is in a nebula, a large cloud of dust and gas where stars often form as material condenses. (The International Business Times)

The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulae. (Sputnik News)

It sounds like a lame, politically correct, nebulous result of 1,000 monkeys (or consultants) randomly typing for 10 years to come up with something that would confuse anyone not explicitly familiar with Greensboro’s airport … the Airport Formerly Known As Piedmont Triad International, which was a bad enough name, but at least had the slight advantage of incumbency. (The Greensboro News & Record)

Doctors today who operate in the nebulous area of medically prescribed marijuana do so without a firm foundation. (The Salt Lake City Tribune)