\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

That’s what happens when money floats into the ether of latter-day Wall Street, unmoored by connection to substance. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ Is a Transfixing Epic of Riches and Ruin," 13 July 2018 So the introduction of powerful and energy-efficient custom ASICs could increase the amount of computing power required to produce one unit of ether. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Why this year’s insane graphics-card price surge might be over," 30 Apr. 2018 There was no more fitting team to dispatch Mexico from this World Cup than Brazil because Brazil is the country better than any that helps contextualize El Tri’s standing in the international soccer ether. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Mexico’s World Cup Ends in Round of 16," 2 July 2018 All those handsome, heroic dads parading through the ether can disturb people whose fathers fell far short of the ideal, or whose fathers are gone. Mary Schmich,, "Is Father's Day outdated?," 15 June 2018 Those issues have been in the ether for decades, and not one has turned into a Silicon Valley movement. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Google and the Rise of "Digital Wellbeing"," 9 May 2018 Lazy or not, the soufflé was as light as ether just the same. Samin Nosrat, New York Times, "No Time for a Breakfast Soufflé? Try a ‘Soufflazy’," 22 Feb. 2018 Coinbase currently offers trading in bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether and litecoin. Fortune, "Bitcoin Rises as Ripple's Allure Fades Among Cryptocurrency Traders," 5 Jan. 2018 Each is a replica of the last, a humming absence spinning into the ether. Sadia Hassan, Longreads, "Silence is a Lonely Country: A Prayer in Twelve Parts," 13 July 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

4 Nov 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

Comments on ether

What made you want to look up ether? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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