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[at-muh s-feer] /ˈæt məsˌfɪər/
the gaseous envelope surrounding the earth; the air.
this medium at a given place.
Astronomy. the gaseous envelope surrounding a heavenly body.
Chemistry. any gaseous envelope or medium.
a conventional unit of pressure, the normal pressure of the air at sea level, about 14.7 pounds per square inch (101.3 kilopascals), equal to the pressure exerted by a column of mercury 29.92 inches (760 mm) high.
Abbreviation: atm.
a surrounding or pervading mood, environment, or influence:
an atmosphere of impending war; a very tense atmosphere.
the dominant mood or emotional tone of a work of art, as of a play or novel:
the chilly atmosphere of a ghost story.
a distinctive quality, as of a place; character:
The old part of town has lots of atmosphere.
verb (used with object), atmosphered, atmosphering.
to give an atmosphere to:
The author had cleverly atmosphered the novel for added chills.
1630-40; < Neo-Latin atmosphaera. See atmo-, -sphere
Related forms
atmosphereless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for atmosphere
  • It lies, of course, in the combination of the strictest realism of detail with a fairy-tale unrealism of general atmosphere.
  • We live at the bottom of an invisible ocean called the atmosphere, a layer of gases surrounding our planet.
  • The atmosphere is the layer of gases that surround a planet.
  • Meteorologists observe the effects of dusts and gases as they burst into the atmosphere and sometimes travel around the globe.
  • Auroras occur when waves of charged particles light up gases in the upper atmosphere.
  • The atmosphere has an average temperature, which is contained in the bulk of the gases.
  • Lewis was drawn to the school by its ''accepting atmosphere'' in contrast to his own rigid education in England.
  • Oxygen is constantly leaking out of Earth's atmosphere and into space.
  • The lush plantings reinforce the forestlike atmosphere.
  • This similarity may mean the atmosphere carries more large dust particles than climate models assume.
British Dictionary definitions for atmosphere


the gaseous envelope surrounding the earth or any other celestial body See also troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, ionosphere
the air or climate in a particular place the atmosphere was thick with smoke
a general pervasive feeling or mood an atmosphere of elation
the prevailing tone or mood of a novel, symphony, painting, or other work of art
a special mood or character associated with a place
any local gaseous environment or medium an inert atmosphere
a unit of pressure; the pressure that will support a column of mercury 760 mm high at 0°C at sea level. 1 atmosphere is equivalent to 101 325 newtons per square metre or 14.72 pounds per square inch Abbreviation at, atm
Derived Forms
atmospheric, atmospherical, adjective
atmospherically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for atmosphere
1630s, from Mod.L. atmosphaera, from atmo-, comb. form of Gk. atmos "vapor, steam" + spharia "sphere." First used in Eng. in connection with the Moon, which, as it turns out, doesn't have one. Figurative sense of "surrounding influence, mental or moral environment" is 1797. Gk. atmos is from PIE *awet-mo-, from base *wet- "to blow, inspire, spiritually arouse" (see wood (adj.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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atmosphere in Medicine

atmosphere at·mos·phere (āt'mə-sfǐr')

  1. A gas surrounding a given body; a gaseous medium.

  2. Abbr. atm, atm. A unit of pressure equal to the air pressure at sea level, approximately equal to 1.01325 × 105 newtons per square meter.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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atmosphere in Science

  1. The mixture of gases surrounding the Earth or other celestial body, held in place by gravity. It forms distinct layers at different heights. The Earth's atmosphere consists, in ascending order, of the troposphere (containing 90% of the atmosphere's mass), the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere. The atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%) and plays a major role in the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the carbon cycle. See more at exosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, thermosphere, troposphere.

  2. A unit of pressure equal to the pressure of the air at sea level, about 14.7 pounds per square inch, or 1,013 millibars.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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atmosphere in Culture

atmosphere definition

The blanket of gas on the surface of a planet or satellite.

Note: The atmosphere of the Earth is roughly eighty percent nitrogen and twenty percent oxygen, with traces of other gases. (See ionosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere.)
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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