\ˈē-thər \

Definition of ether 

1a : the rarefied element formerly believed to fill the upper regions of space

b : the upper regions of space : heavens

2a : a light volatile flammable liquid C4H10O used chiefly as a solvent and especially formerly as an anesthetic

b : any of a class of organic compounds characterized by an oxygen atom attached to two carbon atoms

3a or less commonly aether \ˈē-​thər \ : a medium that in the wave theory of light permeates all space and transmits transverse waves

b : airwaves

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Other Words from ether

etheric \i-​ˈther-​ik, -​ˈthir-​ \ adjective

Examples of ether in a Sentence

The balloon disappeared into the ether.

Recent Examples on the Web

Ethereum's currency, ether, fell below $155—down 25 percent over the last week. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Bitcoin and Ethereum fall to lows not seen since 2017," 19 Nov. 2018 Take ether, the in-house currency for the Ethereum network. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "‘Crypto Tourists’ Flee as Bitcoin Slump Drags On," 12 Sep. 2018 The gases are modern-day versions of ether, first discovered in the mid-1800s. Ronald S. Litman,, "Should I worry about my child being allergic to anesthesia?," 9 July 2018 At last month’s European men’s shows, on the runways and cobblestone streets, a few trends emerged from the ether and solidified into full-blown style movements. Samuel Hine, GQ, "The Daring New Trend in Pants Is…Shorts," 2 July 2018 The board voted 4-0 to implement a reduced rate increase by taking $150,000 from a fund reserved for cleaning water that has been contaminated by methyl tert-butyl ether, or MTBE, a volatile organic compound. Alejandra Reyes-velarde,, "Crescenta Valley Water District implements lower rate increase than proposed," 28 June 2018 Mainframe, a decentralized network for censorship resistance, has donated 1,000 ether (worth approximately $542,000) to the foundation. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "The Freedom of Press Foundation Is Now Accepting Cryptocurrency," 19 June 2018 Out in the social ether, where lives are compressed into a photo and a paragraph, Father’s Day can seem like a contest. Mary Schmich,, "Is Father's Day outdated?," 15 June 2018 Most of Dust is warm and propulsive, with percolating grooves emerging from the ether and vanishing just as mysteriously. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Music / Post No Bills Laurel Halo’s aqueous techno feels homemade on the album Dust," 3 Apr. 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for ether

Middle English, from Latin aether, from Greek aithēr, from aithein to ignite, blaze; akin to Old English ād pyre — more at edify

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Statistics for ether

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ether

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

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More Definitions for ether



English Language Learners Definition of ether

: a liquid that burns easily, that is used to turn solid substances into liquid, and that was used in medicine in the past to prevent patients from feeling pain during operations

the ether : the air : the sky


\ˈē-thər \

Kids Definition of ether

: a light flammable liquid used to dissolve fats and especially in the past as an anesthetic


\ˈē-thər \

Medical Definition of ether 

1 : a medium that in the wave theory of light permeates all space and transmits transverse waves

2a : a light volatile flammable liquid C4H10O used especially formerly chiefly as an anesthetic

called also diethyl ether, ethyl ether, ethyl oxide

b : any of various organic compounds characterized by an oxygen atom attached to two carbon atoms

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More from Merriam-Webster on ether

Spanish Central: Translation of ether

Nglish: Translation of ether for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ether for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ether

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