Aeon

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Etymology

[a. L. æ{o}n, a. Gr. age.]

Definition 1

An age of the universe, an immeasurable period of time; the whole duration of the world, or of the universe; eternity.

Quotation

1916 O. SITWELL in E. & O. Sitwell 20th Cent. Harlequinade 25 From far within his æon-battered brain Well up those wanton wistful images. 1923 Blackw. Mag. July 61/3 The aeon-long passage of water a-down the rock has worn its surface to a glassy smoothness. 1938 W. DE LA MARE Memory 29 A storm-cock shrilled its aeon-old refrain. 1948 E. SITWELL Notebk. W. Shakes. vi. 53 In one of the most terrible aeon-moments of the play.

Definition 2

The personification of an age. In Platonic Philos., A power existing from eternity; an emanation, generation, or phase of the supreme deity, taking part in the creation and government of the universe.

Quotation

1647 H. MORE Song of Soul Notes 138/1 But Intellect or Æon hath in himself proper Intellectuall life. 1678 CUDWORTH Intell. Syst. 212 The next considerable appearance of a multitude of self-existent deities seems to be in the Valentinian Thirty Gods and Æons. 1865 LECKY Rationalism I. iii. 228 More commonly she was deemed a personification of a Divine attribute, an individual Æon.

Definition 3

  1. Geol. and Astr. One thousand million years.

Quotation

1933 SCHUCHERT & DUNBAR Textbk. Geol. (ed. 3) v. 70 It has recently been proposed to use the name Cryptozoic eon..for Pre-Cambrian time, and Phanerozoic eon..for all subsequent time. 1958 [see CRYPTOZOIC a. 2]. 1969 Proc. Geol. Soc. Lond. Aug. 148 Eon, compounded of several eras. 1980 EICHER & MCALESTER Hist. of Earth ii. 48 The last 15 percent of geologic history is known as the Phanerozoic..Eon. 1982 W. B. HARLAND et al. Geologic Time Scale ii. 7/2 The classification has developed traditionally on a hierarchical basis with eons (e.g. Phanerozoic), eras (e.g. Mesozoic), periods (e.g. Jurassic), [etc.].

Definition 4

Geol. and Astr. One thousand million years.

Quotation

1968 R. A. LYTTLETON Mysteries Solar Syst. i. 5 We are now fairly certain that the planets have existed for something like 4 to 5 thousand million years, four to five aeons (to use a modern unit of time, the aeon, which avoids the confusion associated with the word billion). 1969 G. G. SIMPSON in F. W. Preston et al. Diversity & Stability in Ecol. Systems v. 165 These fossils are with considerable probability somewhat but not greatly older than the long-known and classical faunas universally recognized as early Cambrian. Their age may be on the order of 0·7 eon (700 million years). 1974 Nature 15 Mar. 199 (heading) Evidence for a {swing}4·5 aeon age of plagioclase clasts in a lunar highland breccia.