lith·​o·​sphere | \ˈli-thə-ˌsfir \

Definition of lithosphere 

: the solid part of a celestial body (such as the earth) specifically : the outer part of the solid earth composed of rock essentially like that exposed at the surface, consisting of the crust and outermost layer of the mantle, and usually considered to be about 60 miles (100 kilometers) in thickness

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Other Words from lithosphere

lithospheric \ ˌli-​thə-​ˈsfir-​ik , -​ˈsfer-​ \ adjective

Examples of lithosphere in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The climate is basically a giant planet-sized machine with lots of moving parts—the atmosphere, the lithosphere, the cryosphere, the biosphere—and the interactions between those moving parts may be quite sensitive. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Alien Anthropocene: How Would Other Worlds Battle Climate Change?," 13 June 2018 Here’s how two plates split apart: The lithosphere, which is broken up into tectonic plates, is made of the Earth’s crust and the upper part of the mantle. Laura Geggel, Washington Post, "A huge crack provides evidence that Africa is slowly splitting into two," 7 Apr. 2018 Normal bone has a tensile strength of 150 megapascals, but Godzilla's bones can handle 3000 MPa—the same pressure found at the base of earth's lithosphere, 60 miles below the surface. Danielle Venton, Popular Mechanics, "The Impossible Anatomy of Godzilla," 14 May 2014 Continental rifting requires the existence of extensional forces great enough to break the lithosphere. Lucia Perez Diaz, CNN, "Big crack evidence East Africa could be splitting in two," 5 Apr. 2018 In the East African Rift’s case, a large mantle plume under the lithosphere is weakening it, allowing it to stretch, Perez Diaz said. Laura Geggel, Washington Post, "A huge crack provides evidence that Africa is slowly splitting into two," 7 Apr. 2018 The Earth's lithosphere (formed by the crust and the upper part of the mantle) is broken up into a number of tectonic plates. Lucia Perez Diaz, CNN, "Big crack evidence East Africa could be splitting in two," 5 Apr. 2018 The lithosphere, in other words, is the layer of the planet that makes up the tectonic plates. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "A Thorny Debate in Plate Tectonics May Finally Be Resolved," 21 Aug. 2017 The lithosphere is above another layer of mantle called the asthenopshere, where the rock is at just the right pressure and temperature to flow over time and help move the plates. Erik Klemetti, WIRED, "A volcanic cruise through the Mariana Islands: Part 1," 13 July 2010

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

1887, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lithosphere

borrowed from German Lithosphäre, from litho- litho- + -sphäre -sphere

Note: Lithosphäre was introduced by the Austrian geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914) in Die Entstehung der Alpen (Vienna, 1875), p. 158.

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The first known use of lithosphere was in 1887

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lith·​o·​sphere | \ˈli-thə-ˌsfir \

Kids Definition of lithosphere

: the outer part of the solid earth

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More from Merriam-Webster on lithosphere

Spanish Central: Translation of lithosphere

Nglish: Translation of lithosphere for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about lithosphere

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