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: the apparent surface of the heavens of which half forms the dome of the visible sky
: any of the concentric and eccentric revolving spherical transparent shells in which according to ancient astronomy stars, sun, planets, and moon are set
: a globe depicting such a sphere
broadly : globe sense a
: a globular body : ball
: a solid that is bounded by a surface consisting of all points at a given distance from a point constituting its center see Volume Formulas Table
: the bounding surface of a sphere
: natural, normal, or proper place
especially : social order or rank
not in the same sphere as his moneyed friends
obsolete : orbit
: an area or range over or within which someone or something acts, exists, or has influence or significance
the public sphere
ˈsfir-ik How to pronounce sphere (audio)
adjective archaic
sphericity noun


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sphered; sphering

transitive verb

: to place in a sphere or among the spheres : ensphere
: to form into a sphere


3 of 3

combining form

: zone, layer or region enveloping or radiating from the earth or another celestial body
: collectivity : totality (as specified by the initial element)

Example Sentences

Noun All points on a sphere are the same distance from the center. Women at that time were confined to the domestic sphere. They recognize that jobs in the public sphere are valuable.
Recent Examples on the Web
India is trying to preserve its own sphere of influence in South Asia through projects such as building roads and bridges in Bangladesh, hydroelectric plants in Nepal and ports and railways in Sri Lanka. The Economist, 22 July 2017 Remove the 108 stitches, peel back the two-piece cowhide cover, unravel the four layers of yarn and a rubber pill is revealed, inside of which is contained a sphere of cork. Kirk Kenney, sandiegouniontribune.com, 2 July 2017 The conductor in this creative sphere is the Double, Tchaikovsky’s alter ego. Leilah Bernstein, Los Angeles Magazine, 23 June 2017 Their main points have been discussed exhaustively, both in congressional hearings and in the public sphere. Peter W. Stevenson, Washington Post, 21 June 2017 So far, astronomers have found only a dozen of the most distant probes of Planet Nine’s supposed sphere of influence. Joshua Sokol, Science | AAAS, 21 June 2017 Prusa is celebrated for intricate images derived from astrophysics and mathematics, painstakingly drawn in silverpoint onto large acrylic spheres. George Fishman, miamiherald, 16 June 2017 Developer Vicarious Visions chose authenticity over improvement, and, in the sphere of gaming history and archival, that choice matters. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 2 July 2017 The dish is served with french fries, kale slaw and little spheres of hot sauce on the house buttermilk-herb dressing. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 29 June 2017
But with those four, Grande was able to establish her credibility in the fragrance sphere early in her music career. Emily Jensen, Harper's BAZAAR, 16 Nov. 2022 Check out the velvet sphere from CB2 or Athena Calderone’s shearling spherical pillow from Crate & Barrel. Jura Koncius, Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2022 Sixty-five years ago, a metal sphere the size of a basketball caught the U.S. science, military and intelligence communities by surprise. Jonathan Osborne, Scientific American, 26 Oct. 2022 Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte came out in 2003, and by the late 2000s, the fall trend had trickled from the novelty coffee drinks sphere into the beer world. Emma Balter, Chron, 10 Oct. 2022 Silver and Spellman have both have put their stamps on the comic book sphere in different ways. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Oct. 2022 Her death sparked a flood of tributes from stars both in the country sphere and out, including McEntire, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, LeAnn Rimes, Carly Pearce, McGraw and more. Daniela Avila, Peoplemag, 5 Oct. 2022 For context: Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis, with the best of intentions, shared to the Twitter-sphere his hack for a low-cost, inflation-friendly meal heavy on protein and fiber. Serena Dai, Bon Appétit, 2 Sep. 2022 Per Corinthian's instructions, in addition to the sigil encircling Dream, the Magus crafts a glass sphere around the Endless One that should keep him locked up tight. Alex Raiman, EW.com, 5 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sphere.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English spere globe, celestial sphere, from Anglo-French espere, from Latin sphaera, from Greek sphaira, literally, ball; perhaps akin to Greek spairein to quiver — more at spurn entry 1

Combining form

extracted from atmosphere

First Known Use


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


1602, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sphere was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near sphere

Cite this Entry

“Sphere.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphere. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



: a globe-shaped body : ball, globe
: a solid geometric shape whose surface is made up of all the points that are an equal distance from the point that is the shape's center
: the surface of a sphere
: a field of influence or activity
the public sphere

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