1. adjective [usually ADJECTIVE noun]
If you talk about the rarefied atmosphere of a place or institution, you are expressing your disapproval of it, because it has a special social or academic status that makes it very different from ordinary life. [disapproval]
⇒ ...the fear and loneliness that working class students can feel when they are plunged
into the rarefied atmosphere of university.
⇒ It is important for the state's future administrators to get out of the rarefied air
of the capital.
Rarefied air is air that does not contain much oxygen, for example in mountain areas.
⇒ Both animals and people were gasping for breath in the rarefied air.
⇒ ...living at very high altitudes where the atmosphere is rarefied.
COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers