Definition of ether in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈiːθə/


[mass noun]
1 Chemistry A pleasant-smelling colourless volatile liquid that is highly flammable. It is used as an anaesthetic and as a solvent or intermediate in industrial processes.
  • Alternative names: diethyl ether, ethoxyethane; chemical formula: C2H5OC2H5.
Example sentences
  • In the recent past dentists were instrumental in the introduction of diethyl ether and nitrous oxide.
  • The lipid was redissolved in diethyl ether that was then re-evaporated under nitrogen to complete dryness.
  • The animals were anesthetized with diethyl ether, and their abdomens were opened by a midline incision.
1.1 [count noun] Any organic compound with a similar structure to ether, having an oxygen atom linking two alkyl or other organic groups: methyl t-butyl ether
More example sentences
  • Included among these compounds are some of the best known of all chemical families, including the hydrocarbons, alcohols, ethers, aldehydes and ketones, and organic acids.
  • The chemicals included aliphatic hydrocarbons, glycol ethers, isopropanol, limonene, naphtha, oils, and varnishes.
  • The emissions from surface-treated wood-based materials mainly originated from the oils and lacquers, and were mainly alcohols, unsaturated aldehydes, esters, glycol ethers, and glycol esters.
2 (also aether) chiefly literary The clear sky; the upper regions of air beyond the clouds: nasty gases and smoke disperse into the ether
More example sentences
  • A controlled mind is like clear ether which the radiance of the sun can shine through.
2.1 (the ether) informal Air regarded as a medium for radio: choral evensong still wafts across the ether
More example sentences
  • The album leads the listener through a sonic tour of the ether on a radio ship picking up the most interesting sound tidbits floating about, bouncing around and intermingling with each other.
  • When you work in television and radio what you do disappears into the ether, so it is very rewarding to do something with a longer shelf life.
  • I don't know if any Americans are listening right now but I feel bound to make my small stamp on the ether on polling day.
3 (also aether) Physics , archaic A very rarefied and highly elastic substance formerly believed to permeate all space, including the interstices between the particles of matter, and to be the medium whose vibrations constituted light and other electromagnetic radiation: the motion of the planets would be retarded by the ether through which they moved
More example sentences
  • Maxwell believed electromagnetic waves such as light to be vibrations in the ether.
  • Nineteenth-century physicists postulated the existence of an elastic solid, the aether, to account for the propagation of light.
  • I am curious as to exactly when scientists found out that space is a vacuum and not made up of ether?



Pronunciation: /iːˈθɛrɪk/ Pronunciation: /ˈiːθ(ə)rɪk/
Example sentences
  • The etheric body absorbs, assimilates and distributes energy via centres called ‘Chakras’.
  • And the idea that we are surrounded and interpenetrated by a sort of ghostly jelly appealed to the spiritualists of the day, who concocted the notion that we each have an etheric body as well as a material one.
  • Humans - and everything that has ‘life’ - have an etheric body which looks identical to the physical body but functions at a higher frequency.


Late Middle English: from Old French, or via Latin from Greek aithēr 'upper air', from the base of aithein 'burn, shine'. Originally the word denoted a substance believed to occupy space beyond the sphere of the moon. sense 3 arose in the mid 17th century and sense 1 in the mid 18th century.

  • This comes via Latin from Greek aithēr ‘upper air’, from the base of aithein ‘burn, shine’. Originally it meant a substance believed to occupy space beyond the sphere of the moon. It was then used, from the mid 17th century, as a name for the rarefied substance formerly believed to permeate all space, a sense behind ethereal (early 16th century). The use of a volatile liquid as an anaesthetic is found from the mid 18th century. Ethernet, a blend of ether and network dates from the 1970s.

Words that rhyme with ether


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ether

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