noun \ ˈsfir \
|Updated on: 12 Jun 2018

Definition of sphere

1 a (1) : the apparent surface of the heavens of which half forms the dome of the visible sky
(2) : any of the concentric and eccentric revolving spherical transparent shells in which according to ancient astronomy stars, sun, planets, and moon are set
b : a globe depicting such a sphere; broadly : globe a
2 a : a globular body : ball
b : planet, star
c (1) : 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
(2) : the bounding surface of a sphere
3 : natural, normal, or proper place; especially : social order or rank
  • not in the same sphere as his moneyed friends
4 a obsolete : orbit
b : an area or range over or within which someone or something acts, exists, or has influence or significance
  • the public sphere


play \ˈsfir-ik, ˈsfer-\ adjective, archaic


play \sfir-ˈi-sə-tē\ noun

Examples of sphere in a Sentence

  1. All points on a sphere are the same distance from the center.

  2. Women at that time were confined to the domestic sphere.

  3. They recognize that jobs in the public sphere are valuable.

Recent Examples of sphere from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sphere

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




Definition of sphere

sphered; sphering
1 : to place in a sphere or among the spheres : ensphere
2 : to form into a sphere

First Known Use of sphere


in the meaning defined at sense 1

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler


combining form \ ˌsfir \

Definition of -sphere

1 : zone, layer or region enveloping or radiating from the earth or another celestial body
  • ionosphere
  • magnetosphere
2 : collectivity : totality (as specified by the initial element)
  • biosphere
  • blogosphere

Origin and Etymology of -sphere

extracted from atmosphere

SPHERE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of sphere for English Language Learners

  • : a round object

  • geometry : a three-dimensional shape that looks like a ball

  • : an area of influence or activity

SPHERE Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈsfir \

Definition of sphere for Students

1 : an object (as the moon) shaped like a ball
2 : a figure so shaped that every point on its surface is an equal distance from its center
3 : a field of influence or activity
  • Electrical work is outside a plumber's sphere.

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


to hasten

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Test Your Emoji Exceptionalism

  • test-your-emoji-exceptionalism-written-with-a-lot-of-emoji
  • What is this emoji intended to represent: 🤳
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!