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aether

[ee-ther] /ˈi θər/
noun
1.
ether (defs 3–5).
2.
(initial capital letter) the ancient Greek personification of the clear upper air of the sky.
Related forms
aethereal
[ih-theer-ee-uh l] /ɪˈθɪər i əl/ (Show IPA),
aetheric
[ih-ther-ik] /ɪˈθɛr ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective

ether

or aether (for defs 3–5)

[ee-ther] /ˈi θər/
noun
1.
Also called diethyl ether, diethyl oxide, ethyl ether, ethyl oxide, sulfuric ether. Chemistry, Pharmacology. a colorless, highly volatile, flammable liquid, C 4 H 10 O, having an aromatic odor and sweet, burning taste, derived from ethyl alcohol by the action of sulfuric acid: used as a solvent and, formerly, as an inhalant anesthetic.
2.
Chemistry. (formerly) one of a class of compounds in which two organic groups are attached directly to an oxygen atom, having the general formula ROR.
3.
the upper regions of space; the clear sky; the heavens.
4.
the medium supposed by the ancients to fill the upper regions of space.
5.
Physics. a hypothetical substance supposed to occupy all space, postulated to account for the propagation of electromagnetic radiation through space.
Origin of ether
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin aethēr the upper air, pure air, ether < Greek aithḗr, akin to aíthein to glow, burn, Old English ād funeral pyre, Latin aestus heat
Related forms
etheric
[ih-ther-ik, ih-theer-] /ɪˈθɛr ɪk, ɪˈθɪər-/ (Show IPA),
adjective
superether, noun
Can be confused
either, ether.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for aether
Historical Examples
  • Or we can accept Professor Lodge's theory, that aether is made up of positive and negative electricity.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • This problem will also be dealt with from the standpoint of our new conception of the aether.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • Young assumed different densities for the aether near bodies owing to its being attracted by those bodies (Art. 45).

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • It has already been pointed out in Art. 29 that aether is matter.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • In these operations the elasticity of the aether is called into play.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • We shall see that this is so when we come to deal with the density of the aether.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • Different bodies, when heated to the same temperature, possess very different powers of agitating the aether: some are.

  • If aether be matter, therefore, then it must also possess inertia.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • That the aether is universal is proved by the phenomena of light.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • Let us therefore revert to our hypothesis of the aether as given in Art. 45.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
British Dictionary definitions for aether

aether

/ˈiːθə/
noun
1.
a variant spelling of ether (sense 3), ether (sense 4), ether (sense 5)

ether

/ˈiːθə/
noun
1.
Also called diethyl ether, ethyl ether, ethoxyethane. a colourless volatile highly flammable liquid with a characteristic sweetish odour, made by the reaction of sulphuric acid with ethanol: used as a solvent and anaesthetic. Formula: C2H5OC2H5
2.
any of a class of organic compounds with the general formula ROR′ where R and R′ are alkyl groups, as in diethyl ether C2H5OC2H5
3.
the ether, the hypothetical medium formerly believed to fill all space and to support the propagation of electromagnetic waves
4.
(Greek myth) the upper regions of the atmosphere; clear sky or heaven
5.
a rare word for air
Also (for senses 3–5) aether
Derived Forms
etheric (iːˈθɛrɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin aether, from Greek aithēr, from aithein to burn
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 aether

ether

n.

late 14c., "upper regions of space," from Old French ether and directly from Latin aether "the upper pure, bright air," from Greek aither "upper air; bright, purer air; the sky," from aithein "to burn, shine," from PIE root *aidh- "to burn" (see edifice).

In ancient cosmology, the element that filled all space beyond the sphere of the moon, constituting the substance of the stars and planets. Conceived of as a purer form of fire or air, or as a fifth element. From 17c.-19c., it was the scientific word for an assumed "frame of reference" for forces in the universe, perhaps without material properties. The concept was shaken by the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) and discarded after the Theory of Relativity won acceptance, but before it went it gave rise to the colloquial use of ether for "the radio" (1899).

The name also was bestowed c.1730 (Frobenius; in English by 1757) on a volatile chemical compound known since 14c. for its lightness and lack of color (its anesthetic properties weren't fully established until 1842).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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aether in Medicine

ether e·ther (ē'thər)
n.

  1. Any of a class of organic compounds in which two hydrocarbon groups are linked by an oxygen atom.

  2. An anesthetic ether, especially diethyl ether.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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aether in Science
ether
  (ē'thər)   
  1. An organic compound in which two hydrocarbon groups are linked by an oxygen atom, having the general structure ROR', where R and R' are the two hydrocarbon groups. At room temperature, ethers are pleasant-smelling liquids resembling alcohols but less dense and less soluble in water. Ethers are part of many naturally occurring organic compounds, such as starches and sugars, and are widely used in industry and in making pharmaceuticals.

  2. A colorless, flammable liquid used as a solvent and formerly used as an anesthetic. Ether consists of two ethyl groups joined by an oxygen atom. Also called diethyl ether, ethyl ether. Chemical formula: C4H10O.

  3. A hypothetical medium formerly believed to permeate all space, and through which light and other electromagnetic radiation were thought to move. The existence of ether was disproved by the American physicists Albert Michelson and Edward Morley in 1887.


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