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[sfeer] /sfɪər/
  1. a solid geometric figure generated by the revolution of a semicircle about its diameter; a round body whose surface is at all points equidistant from the center. Equation: x 2 + y 2 + z 2 = r 2 .
  2. the surface of such a figure; a spherical surface.
any rounded body approximately of this form; a globular mass, shell, etc.
  1. a planet or star; heavenly body.
  2. celestial sphere.
  3. any of the transparent, concentric, spherical shells, or layers, in which, according to ancient belief, the planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies were set.
the place or environment within which a person or thing exists; a field of activity or operation:
to be out of one's professional sphere.
a particular social world, stratum of society, or walk of life:
His social sphere is small.
a field of something specified:
a sphere of knowledge.
verb (used with object), sphered, sphering.
to enclose in or as if in a sphere.
to form into a sphere.
to place among the heavenly spheres.
Origin of sphere
1250-1300; < Late Latin sphēra, Latin sphaera globe < Greek sphaîra ball; replacing Middle English spere < Old French spere < Late Latin spēra, variant of sphēra
Related forms
sphereless, adjective
spherelike, adjective
subsphere, noun
unsphering, adjective
4. orbit, area, province, compass, realm, domain. 5. class, rank.


a combining form of sphere (planisphere); having a special use in the names of the layers of gases and the like surrounding the earth and other celestial bodies (ionosphere). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sphere
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was nothing in her behaviour to indicate a consciousness of error from her sphere.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • And in the sphere of thought, no less than in the sphere of time, motion is no more.

    De Profundis Oscar Wilde
  • I've been living very economically for the sphere that seemed open to me.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • Moreover, it did not take him out of his own sphere—the sphere which is watched by the police.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Alice herself was to be removed from the sphere of her humble calling.

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for sphere


  1. a three-dimensional closed surface such that every point on the surface is equidistant from a given point, the centre
  2. the solid figure bounded by this surface or the space enclosed by it. Equation: (x–a)² + (y–b)² + (z–c)² = r², where r is the radius and (a, b, c) are the coordinates of the centre; surface area: 4πr²; volume: 4πr³/3
any object having approximately this shape; globe
the night sky considered as a vaulted roof; firmament
any heavenly object such as a planet, natural satellite, or star
(in the Ptolemaic or Copernican systems of astronomy) one of a series of revolving hollow globes, arranged concentrically, on whose transparent surfaces the sun (or in the Copernican system the earth), the moon, the planets, and fixed stars were thought to be set, revolving around the earth (or in the Copernican system the sun)
particular field of activity; environment: that's out of my sphere
a social class or stratum of society
verb (transitive) (mainly poetic)
to surround or encircle
to place aloft or in the heavens
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin sphēra, from Latin sphaera globe, from Greek sphaira


combining form
having the shape or form of a sphere: bathysphere
indicating a spherelike enveloping mass: atmosphere
Derived Forms
-spheric, combining_form:in_adjective
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 sphere

1530s, restored spelling of Middle English spere (c.1300) "space, conceived as a hollow globe about the world," from Old French espere (13c.), from Latin sphaera "globe, ball, celestial sphere," from Greek sphaira "globe, ball," of unknown origin.

Sense of "ball, body of globular form" is from late 14c. Medieval astronomical meaning "one of the 8 (later 10) concentric, transparent, hollow globes believed to revolve around the earth and carry the heavenly bodies" is from late 14c.; the supposed harmonious sound they made rubbing against one another was the music of the spheres (late 14c.). Meaning "range of something" is first recorded c.1600 (e.g. sphere of influence, 1885, originally in reference to Anglo-German colonial rivalry in Africa). A spherical number (1640s) is one whose powers always terminate in the same digit as the number itself (5,6, and 10 are the only ones).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sphere in Medicine

sphere (sfēr)
A ball-shaped or a globular body.

spher'al (sfēr'əl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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sphere in Science
A three-dimensional geometric surface having all of its points the same distance from a given point.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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