ether [ee-ther] ExamplesWord Origin See more synonyms for ether on noun

  1. Also called diethyl ether, diethyl oxide, ethyl ether, ethyl oxide, sulfuric ether. Chemistry, Pharmacology. a colorless, highly volatile, flammable liquid, C4H10O, having an aromatic odor and sweet, burning taste, derived from ethyl alcohol by the action of sulfuric acid: used as a solvent and, formerly, as an inhalant anesthetic.
  2. Chemistry. (formerly) one of a class of compounds in which two organic groups are attached directly to an oxygen atom, having the general formula ROR.
  3. the upper regions of space; the clear sky; the heavens.
  4. the medium supposed by the ancients to fill the upper regions of space.
  5. Physics. a hypothetical substance supposed to occupy all space, postulated to account for the propagation of electromagnetic radiation through space.

Also ae·ther (for defs 3–5). Origin of ether 1350–1400; Middle English Latin aethēr the upper air, pure air, ether Greek aithḗr, akin to aíthein to glow, burn, Old English ād funeral pyre, Latin aestus heatRelated formse·ther·ic [ih-ther-ik, ih-theer-] /ɪˈθɛr ɪk, ɪˈθɪər-/, adjectivesu·per·e·ther, nounCan be confusedeither ether Related Words for ether firmament, cosmos, sky, paradise, ether, celestial Examples from the Web for ether Contemporary Examples of ether

  • We would lack a human face as our symbol; we would exist in the ether of ideas with no concrete stake in the ground to tether us.

    128 Years Old and Still a Looker: Happy Birthday to Lady Liberty

    Elizabeth Mitchell

    October 28, 2014

  • A week does not pass without another set of economic numbers blasting through the ether.

    Don’t Trust the Economic Numbers That Govern Our World

    Zachary Karabell

    February 27, 2014

  • Users post a photo, add a question, and send it off into the ether to be answered.

    This Week’s Hot Apps: Jelly, Confide, Yahoo News Digest, Lumosity Mobile

    Brian Ries

    January 10, 2014

  • “It almost feels sometimes that Matilda is out in the ether,” she says.

    ‘Matilda’ Star Mara Wilson Reviews ‘Matilda the Musical’

    Ramin Setoodeh

    April 16, 2013

  • But that particular sword of Damocles has floated off into the ether.

    Obama’s Social Security Gambit

    Michael Tomasky

    April 9, 2013

  • Historical Examples of ether

  • The lead salts not soluble in ether were decomposed by acid.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 497, July 11, 1885


  • How these motions are communicated to the ether matters not.

    Old-Fashioned Ethics and Common-Sense Metaphysics

    William Thomas Thornton

  • Gravitation then is a property belonging to matter and not to ether.

    The Machinery of the Universe

    Amos Emerson Dolbear

  • There is no phenomenon in the ether that is comparable with this.

    The Machinery of the Universe

    Amos Emerson Dolbear

  • The ether is in great contrast with matter in this particular.

    The Machinery of the Universe

    Amos Emerson Dolbear

  • British Dictionary definitions for ether ether noun

    1. Also called: diethyl ether, ethyl ether, ethoxyethane a colourless volatile highly flammable liquid with a characteristic sweetish odour, made by the reaction of sulphuric acid with ethanol: used as a solvent and anaesthetic. Formula: C 2 H 5 OC 2 H 5
    2. any of a class of organic compounds with the general formula ROR′ where R and R′ are alkyl groups, as in diethyl ether C 2 H 5 OC 2 H 5
    3. the ether the hypothetical medium formerly believed to fill all space and to support the propagation of electromagnetic waves
    4. Greek myth the upper regions of the atmosphere; clear sky or heaven
    5. a rare word for air

    Also (for senses 3–5): aether Derived Formsetheric (iːˈθɛrɪk), adjectiveWord Origin for ether C17: from Latin aether, from Greek aithēr, from aithein to burn Word Origin and History for ether n.

    late 14c., “upper regions of space,” from Old French ether and directly from Latin aether “the upper pure, bright air,” from Greek aither “upper air; bright, purer air; the sky,” from aithein “to burn, shine,” from PIE root *aidh- “to burn” (see edifice).

    In ancient cosmology, the element that filled all space beyond the sphere of the moon, constituting the substance of the stars and planets. Conceived of as a purer form of fire or air, or as a fifth element. From 17c.-19c., it was the scientific word for an assumed “frame of reference” for forces in the universe, perhaps without material properties. The concept was shaken by the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) and discarded after the Theory of Relativity won acceptance, but before it went it gave rise to the colloquial use of ether for “the radio” (1899).

    The name also was bestowed c.1730 (Frobenius; in English by 1757) on a volatile chemical compound known since 14c. for its lightness and lack of color (its anesthetic properties weren’t fully established until 1842).

    ether in Medicine ether [ē′thər] n.

    1. Any of a class of organic compounds in which two hydrocarbon groups are linked by an oxygen atom.
    2. An anesthetic ether, especially diethyl ether.

    ether in Science ether [ē′thər]

    1. An organic compound in which two hydrocarbon groups are linked by an oxygen atom, having the general structure ROR′, where R and R′ are the two hydrocarbon groups. At room temperature, ethers are pleasant-smelling liquids resembling alcohols but less dense and less soluble in water. Ethers are part of many naturally occurring organic compounds, such as starches and sugars, and are widely used in industry and in making pharmaceuticals.
    2. A colorless, flammable liquid used as a solvent and formerly used as an anesthetic. Ether consists of two ethyl groups joined by an oxygen atom. Also called diethyl ether, ethyl ether. Chemical formula: C4H10O.
    3. A hypothetical medium formerly believed to permeate all space, and through which light and other electromagnetic radiation were thought to move. The existence of ether was disproved by the American physicists Albert Michelson and Edward Morley in 1887.

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