\ ˈē-thər How to pronounce ether (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ether (audio) \ : a medium that in the wave theory of light permeates all space and transmits transverse waves

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Other Words from ether

etheric \ i-​ˈther-​ik How to pronounce ether (audio) , -​ˈthir-​ \ adjective

Examples of ether in a Sentence

The balloon disappeared into the ether.
Recent Examples on the Web There’s the simple physical bounds of being human; as of yet, we can’t be zapped through the ether. Tom Vanderbilt, Wired, "The Pandemic Gives Us a Chance to Change How We Get Around," 2 Dec. 2020 The very concept of a career trajectory was challenged as jobs in certain industries quite literally disappeared into the ether. Vicky Spratt,, "Is Ambition Dead?," 4 Dec. 2020 His ideas seemed to come to him from out of the ether, with no foundation in facts, analysis, or underlying philosophy. Bruce Bartlett, The New Republic, "Bush Doesn’t Look Better in Hindsight. He Looks Worse.," 23 Nov. 2020 The ideas, that was what really mattered, at the end of the day, coming out through that screen, smashing into the ones in his own mind, turning it into magic from the raw ether. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, Wired, "The Future of Work: ‘Work Ethics,’ by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne," 13 Nov. 2020 Creative collaboration was what put humans on the moon and what still keeps us in the digital ether. Fortune, "Better conversations: The 7 essential elements of meaningful communication," 24 Nov. 2020 And in the age of COVID all of this is sent through the ether. Kevin Fisher-paulson,, "Fisher-Paulson: An unfortunate accident brings up wonderful memories," 17 Nov. 2020 Their vitriol just seemed to dissolve into the ether. Washington Post, "Kamala Harris made history with quiet, exquisite power," 8 Nov. 2020 Creative people are simply the conduits for what comes out of the creative ether. Barry Samaha, Harper's BAZAAR, "Alexi Lubomirski Combines Poetry and Photography in a New Book," 29 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for ether

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ether

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ether.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce ether (audio)

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 air : the sky


\ ˈē-thər How to pronounce ether (audio) \

Kids Definition of ether

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


\ ˈē-thər How to pronounce ether (audio) \

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

Nglish: Translation of ether for Spanish Speakers

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

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