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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)

Examples of sphere in a Sentence

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
Other courts are also breaking new ground in this sphere. Anastasia Moloney, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 May 2024 Covering Kesha was also the perfect way to venture into new waters, and appeal to crowds outside of the country music sphere. Marissa R. Moss, Rolling Stone, 6 May 2024 The spheres turned out a bit fluffier, but the ovals have more crackly surface geography to savor. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2024 If anything goes wrong in any of those spheres, the rest of their lives are most likely still intact. Silas Allen, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3 May 2024 These points would eventually be the centers of the spheres in the packing. Quanta Magazine, 30 Apr. 2024 But details included in the document, compared with information already in the public sphere about the scheme, helped identify those defendants. Stacey Barchenger, The Arizona Republic, 24 Apr. 2024 So why today is there a chorus of critics urging higher education leaders to cultivate neutrality, to cede the public sphere to others? Michael S. Roth, TIME, 23 Apr. 2024 Like no one before, she's turned her spotlit day-to-day into a conceptual project commenting on women's freedom, artistic ambition and the place of the personal in the public sphere. Ann Powers, NPR, 19 Apr. 2024
The night culminated with a countdown as a glowing geodesic sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing almost six tons descended from its lofty perch atop One Times Square. CBS News, 1 Jan. 2023 And young people are innovating outside that sphere as well, including Southern-gothic singer-songwriter Ethel Cain and art-rockers Geese. Vulture, 6 June 2022 One is to look at the long-term, dangerous, even potential catastrophic impacts of climate change as an existential security threat that justifies the sorts of actions outside the security sphere that will be necessary to avoid those impacts. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 6 May 2010 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

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sphere.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 19 May. 2024.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on sphere

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