the region of the upper atmosphere extending upward from the tropopause to about 30 miles (50 km) above the earth, characterized by little vertical change in temperature.
(formerly) all of the earth's atmosphere lying outside the troposphere.
any great height or degree, as the highest point of a graded scale.

1905–10; strat(um) + -o- + sphere

stratospheric [strat-uh-sfer-ik, -sfeer-] , stratospherical, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
stratosphere (ˈstrætəˌsfɪə)
the atmospheric layer lying between the troposphere and the mesosphere, in which temperature generally increases with height

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1909, from Fr. stratosphère, lit. "sphere of layers," coined by Fr. meteorologist Léon-Philippe Teisserenc de Bort (1855-1913) from L. stratus "a spreading out" (from pp. stem of sternere "to spread out;" see structure) + Fr. -sphère, as in atmosphère.
The region where the temperature increases or remains steady as you go higher. [An earlier stratosphere, attested in Eng. 1908 and coined in Ger. 1901, was a geological term for part of the Earth's crust. It is now obsolete.]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
stratosphere  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (strāt'ə-sfîr')  Pronunciation Key 
The region of the Earth's atmosphere extending from the tropopause to about 50 km (31 mi) above the Earth's surface. The stratosphere is characterized by the presence of ozone gas (in the ozone layer) and by temperatures which rise slightly with altitude, due to the absorption of ultraviolet radiation. See also exosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, troposphere., See illustration at atmosphere.

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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
stratosphere [(strat-uh-sfeer)]

The region of the atmosphere of the Earth above the troposphere. The stratosphere begins at an altitude of seven to ten miles and extends to approximately thirty miles.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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