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ether

[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.
Also, aether (for defs 3–5).
Origin
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. 2014.
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Examples for ether
  • Steinmetz, the expert on electricity, denied today that ether in space is the transmitter of waves of sound and light.
  • Something else that doesn't translate well over the ether is humor, especially dry humor.
  • ether lurked in the heavens, a magical and almost spiritual substance he could not pin down.
  • Since it is a long walk you can ether take a carriage ride or a donkey, or horse, or walk on foot.
  • The consensus today is that neither ether nor phlogiston exist.
  • Check out how often it tweets its messaging into the ether.
  • Once, the beastly things that lovers said at the end disappeared into the ether.
  • So scientists collect what they can and let the rest dissipate into the ether.
  • But there is misunderstanding of the housing bubble, which was created by a flood of money dreamed up out of the ether.
  • Nor should it: human knowledge is too precious to consign to the ether alone.
British Dictionary definitions for ether

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 ether
ether
late 14c., from L. æther "the upper pure, bright air," from Gk. aither "upper air," from aithein "to burn, shine," from I.E. base *aidh- "to burn" (cf. Skt. inddhe "burst into flames," O.Ir. aed "fire," L. aedes, see edify). 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 1757 on a volatile chemical compound 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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ether 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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ether 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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ether in Technology

language
A concurrent object-oriented language?
(1997-03-18)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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