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[lith-uh-sfeer] /ˈlɪθ əˌsfɪər/
noun, Geology
the solid portion of the earth (distinguished from atmosphere, hydrosphere).
the crust and upper mantle of the earth.
Also called geosphere [jee-uh-sfeer] /ˈdʒi əˌsfɪər/ (Show IPA).
Origin of lithosphere
1885-90; litho- + -sphere
Related forms
[lith-uh-sfer-ik] /ˌlɪθ əˈsfɛr ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for lithosphere
  • The crust and the upper portion of the mantle form the lithosphere.
  • The atmosphere is the layer of air that stretches above the lithosphere.
  • The uppermost part of the mantle is solid and, along with the crust, forms the lithosphere.
  • Technically the lithosphere includes the upper, rigid part of the mantle.
  • Subduction is the process of the oceanic lithosphere colliding with and descending beneath the continental lithosphere.
  • When the hot plume arrives at the base of the lithosphere, some of the lighter rock of the lithosphere rapidly melts.
  • Tectonic refers to rock-deforming processes and resulting structures that occur over large sections of the lithosphere.
  • The pores or openings in this portion of the lithosphere may be partially or completely filled with water.
  • It exists at the interface of the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.
British Dictionary definitions for lithosphere


the rigid outer layer of the earth, having an average thickness of about 75 km and comprising the earth's crust and the solid part of the mantle above the asthenosphere
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 lithosphere

"solid part of the earth's surface," 1881; see litho- "stone" + sphere.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lithosphere in Science

The outer part of the Earth, consisting of the crust and upper mantle. It is about 55 km (34 mi) thick beneath the oceans and up to about 200 km (124 mi) thick beneath the continents. The high velocity with which seismic waves propagate through the lithosphere suggests that it is completely solid. Compare asthenosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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lithosphere in Culture
lithosphere [(lith-uh-sfeer)]

The outer layer of the Earth, comprising the crust and the upper part of the mantle. The lithosphere is about sixty miles thick.

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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