\ ˈsfir How to pronounce sphere (audio) \

Definition of sphere

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1) : the apparent surface of the heavens of which half forms the dome of the visible sky
(2) : any of the concentric and eccentric revolving spherical transparent shells in which according to ancient astronomy stars, sun, planets, and moon are set
b : a globe depicting such a sphere broadly : globe sense a
2a : a globular body : ball
b : planet, star
c(1) : a solid that is bounded by a surface consisting of all points at a given distance from a point constituting its center — see Volume Formulas Table
(2) : the bounding surface of a sphere
3 : natural, normal, or proper place especially : social order or rank not in the same sphere as his moneyed friends
4a obsolete : orbit
b : an area or range over or within which someone or something acts, exists, or has influence or significance the public sphere


sphered; sphering

Definition of sphere (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to place in a sphere or among the spheres : ensphere
2 : to form into a sphere


combining form
\ ˌsfir \

Definition of -sphere (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : zone, layer or region enveloping or radiating from the earth or another celestial body ionosphere magnetosphere
2 : collectivity : totality (as specified by the initial element) biosphere blogosphere

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Other Words from sphere


spheric \ ˈsfir-​ik How to pronounce -sphere (audio) , ˈsfer-​ \ adjective, archaic
sphericity \ sfir-​ˈi-​sə-​tē How to pronounce -sphere (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for sphere

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of sphere in a Sentence

Noun All points on a sphere are the same distance from the center. Women at that time were confined to the domestic sphere. They recognize that jobs in the public sphere are valuable.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun India is trying to preserve its own sphere of influence in South Asia through projects such as building roads and bridges in Bangladesh, hydroelectric plants in Nepal and ports and railways in Sri Lanka. The Economist, 22 July 2017 Remove the 108 stitches, peel back the two-piece cowhide cover, unravel the four layers of yarn and a rubber pill is revealed, inside of which is contained a sphere of cork. Kirk Kenney, sandiegouniontribune.com, 2 July 2017 The conductor in this creative sphere is the Double, Tchaikovsky’s alter ego. Leilah Bernstein, Los Angeles Magazine, 23 June 2017 Their main points have been discussed exhaustively, both in congressional hearings and in the public sphere. Peter W. Stevenson, Washington Post, 21 June 2017 So far, astronomers have found only a dozen of the most distant probes of Planet Nine’s supposed sphere of influence. Joshua Sokol, Science | AAAS, 21 June 2017 Prusa is celebrated for intricate images derived from astrophysics and mathematics, painstakingly drawn in silverpoint onto large acrylic spheres. George Fishman, miamiherald, 16 June 2017 Developer Vicarious Visions chose authenticity over improvement, and, in the sphere of gaming history and archival, that choice matters. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 2 July 2017 The dish is served with french fries, kale slaw and little spheres of hot sauce on the house buttermilk-herb dressing. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 29 June 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The brand-new facility is capped by a 26-million-pound, concrete and glass sphere that spans 45,000 square feet and includes the 1,000-seat Geffen Theater. Stephanie Elam, CNN, 28 Sep. 2021 For the uninitiated, prolific scholar Freeman Dyson first described his namesake Dyson sphere concept in a landmark 1960 paper. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 6 Sep. 2021 The center of the National Ignition Facility is the target chamber, a metal sphere 33 feet wide with gleaming diagnostic equipment radiating outward. New York Times, 17 Aug. 2021 Putin’s regime rests on corruption, domination of the information sphere, and a narrative of legitimacy created by phony elections; Navalny attacks on all of these fronts. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 19 July 2021 Those complaints will no doubt grow louder, as Apple continues to experiment in the payments sphere. Andy Meek, BGR, 13 July 2021 Some of England’s players — such as Marcus Rashford, whose grandmother is from the West Indies island of Saint Kitts — have moved into the social justice sphere by campaigning for free meals for schoolchildren during the holidays. Washington Post, 9 July 2021 After gaining prominence from the 90s, MCM Worldwide has been a staple in Black fashion and style sphere alike. Danielle Wright, Essence, 30 June 2021 Wordsworth has also ventured into the dog toy sphere. Alison Coleman, Forbes, 29 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sphere.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sphere


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1602, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sphere


Middle English spere globe, celestial sphere, from Anglo-French espere, from Latin sphaera, from Greek sphaira, literally, ball; perhaps akin to Greek spairein to quiver — more at spurn entry 1

Combining form

extracted from atmosphere

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Time Traveler for sphere

Time Traveler

The first known use of sphere was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Sphere.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphere. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for sphere



English Language Learners Definition of sphere

: a round object : globe
: a three-dimensional shape that looks like a ball
: an area of influence or activity


\ ˈsfir How to pronounce sphere (audio) \

Kids Definition of sphere

1 : an object (as the moon) shaped like a ball
2 : a figure so shaped that every point on its surface is an equal distance from its center
3 : a field of influence or activity Electrical work is outside a plumber's sphere.

More from Merriam-Webster on sphere

Nglish: Translation of sphere for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sphere for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sphere


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