at·​mo·​sphere | \ˈat-mə-ˌsfir \

Definition of atmosphere 

1a : the gaseous envelope of a celestial body (such as a planet)

b : the whole mass of air surrounding the earth

2 : the air of a locality the stuffy atmosphere of the waiting room

3 : a surrounding influence or environment an atmosphere of hostility

4 : a unit of pressure equal to the pressure of the air at sea level or approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch (101,325 pascals)

5a : the overall aesthetic effect of a work of art

b : an intriguing or singular tone, effect, or appeal an inn with atmosphere

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Other Words from atmosphere

atmosphered \-​ˌsfird \ adjective

Examples of atmosphere in a Sentence

Experts have noticed changes in the atmosphere. Meteoroids burn up as they pass through Earth's atmosphere. The planets have different atmospheres. a country inn with lots of atmosphere The food was good but the restaurant has no atmosphere.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The image quality was made even worse by the Earth’s atmosphere. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Galaxy mergers hide ravenous supermassive black holes," 14 Nov. 2018 Upon entering our airspace, cosmic rays first obliterate some hapless molecule in Earth’s atmosphere. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 Mars is fairly low in the sky, which means its light is traveling through more of Earth’s murky atmosphere. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Night sky brings a treat this month as Mars is the brightest it has been in 15 years," 13 July 2018 This is partly because the intensity of the sunlight is far higher without the Earth’s atmosphere absorbing large amounts on its way through to the surface. Charles W. Dunnill, Scientific American, "Method of Making Oxygen from Water in Zero Gravity Raises Hope for Long-Distance Space Travel," 10 July 2018 Earth’s atmosphere has a habit of desiccating things, after all, so plants evolved something called cutin, a waxy barrier against the elements. Matt Simon, WIRED, "The Amphiphilic Liquid Coating That Keeps Your Avocados Fresh," 21 June 2018 Generally, ham radios transmit by bouncing signals off a layer of the earth’s atmosphere. Martin E. Comas,, "Ham radio operators enjoy hobby in age of cell phones and internet," 21 June 2018 Shortly after that, a decision was made to name the new school for Shepard to mark his journey beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Steve Sadin,, "Shepard band director says farewell with one final lesson," 4 June 2018 Surface roughness is important for the flow of any fluid, and the atmosphere is no different. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Houston’s cityscape squeezed extra rain out of Hurricane Harvey," 16 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atmosphere.' 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 atmosphere

1638, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for atmosphere

earlier in Latinate form atmo-sphæra, from Greek atmós "steam, vapor" (probably contracted from aetmós, of uncertain origin) + -o- -o-+ Latin sphaera sphere entry 1

Note: The word atmo-sphæra was apparently introduced by the English clergyman and natural philosopher John Wilkins (1614-72) in The Discovery of a World in the Moone (London, 1638), p. 138: "Proposition 10. That there is an Atmo-sphæra, or an orbe of grosse vaporous aire, immediately encompassing the body of the Moone."

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Last Updated

17 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for atmosphere

The first known use of atmosphere was in 1638

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English Language Learners Definition of atmosphere

: the whole mass of air that surrounds the Earth

: a mass of gases that surround a planet or star

: the air in a particular place or area


at·​mo·​sphere | \ˈat-mə-ˌsfir \

Kids Definition of atmosphere

1 : the whole mass of air that surrounds the earth

2 : the gas surrounding a heavenly body (as a planet) The atmosphere of Mars is made up mostly of carbon dioxide.

3 : the air in a particular place

4 : a surrounding influence or set of conditions an atmosphere of excitement


at·​mo·​sphere | \ˈat-mə-ˌsfi(ə)r \

Medical Definition of atmosphere 

1 : the whole mass of air surrounding the earth

2 : the air of a locality

3 : a unit of pressure equal to the pressure of the air at sea level or to 101,325 pascals or to approximately 14.7 pounds per square inch

Other Words from atmosphere

atmospheric \ˌat-​mə-​ˈsfi(ə)r-​ik, -​ˈsfer-​ \ adjective

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