lith·​o·​sphere | \ ˈli-thə-ˌsfir How to pronounce lithosphere (audio) \

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

Other Words from lithosphere

lithospheric \ ˌli-​thə-​ˈsfir-​ik How to pronounce lithosphere (audio) , -​ˈsfer-​ \ adjective

Examples of lithosphere in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Such a thick lithosphere, Khan says, could be why Mars lacks plate tectonics today. Jonathan O'callaghan, Scientific American, 22 July 2021 There are four main reservoirs of oxygen on Earth: the terrestrial biosphere (green), marine biosphere (blue), lithosphere (Earth’s crust, brown), and atmosphere (grey). The Conversation,, 26 Aug. 2019 The larger the slab of lithosphere sinking at a subduction zone, the faster the plate moves, and the stronger the seismic activity. Plates meet. National Geographic, 27 June 2019 But the puzzle pieces of the lithosphere are always in motion, slamming against one another, grinding past or getting shoved under another slab. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 12 June 2019 Cold, dense oceanic lithosphere sinks below an adjacent, lighter plate, plunging into the hot asthenosphere. National Geographic, 27 June 2019 That’s all thanks to the lithosphere, a solid layer of crust and part of the upper mantle that’s broken into more than a dozen slabs, or plates, of varying sizes. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 12 June 2019 The lithosphere is unable to move much, but the water is pulled by the gravity and a bulge is created. Patrick May, The Mercury News, 3 June 2019 This latest study examines what was lying below the Siberian Flood Basalts, rock between the crust and the mantle known as the lithosphere. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, 28 Aug. 2018 See More

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.

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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Cite this Entry

“Lithosphere.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for lithosphere


lith·​o·​sphere | \ ˈli-thə-ˌsfir How to pronounce lithosphere (audio) \

Kids Definition of lithosphere

: the outer part of the solid earth

More from Merriam-Webster on lithosphere

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


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