[at-muh s-feer]


verb (used with object), at·mos·phered, at·mos·pher·ing.

to give an atmosphere to: The author had cleverly atmosphered the novel for added chills.

Origin of atmosphere

From the New Latin word atmosphaera, dating back to 1630–40. See atmo-, -sphere
Related formsat·mos·phere·less, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for atmosphere

Contemporary Examples of atmosphere

Historical Examples of atmosphere

  • It was sultry, and there was something in the atmosphere that at once threatened and soothed.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Her woman's vanity blossomed deliciously in the atmosphere of a man's love.


    William J. Locke

  • He had breathed into the atmosphere a subtle malaria, and George had caught the disease.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • They absorbed her atmosphere and after each followed a period of mental asphyxy.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The campaigns of Napoleon, with their atmosphere of glory, illustrate this.

British Dictionary definitions for atmosphere



the gaseous envelope surrounding the earth or any other celestial bodySee also troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, ionosphere
the air or climate in a particular placethe atmosphere was thick with smoke
a general pervasive feeling or moodan atmosphere of elation
the prevailing tone or mood of a novel, symphony, painting, or other work of art
a special mood or character associated with a place
any local gaseous environment or mediuman inert atmosphere
a unit of pressure; the pressure that will support a column of mercury 760 mm high at 0°C at sea level. 1 atmosphere is equivalent to 101 325 newtons per square metre or 14.72 pounds per square inchAbbreviation: at, atm
Derived Formsatmospheric or atmospherical, adjectiveatmospherically, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for atmosphere

1630s, atmosphaera (modern form from 1670s), from Modern Latin atmosphaera, from atmo-, comb. form of Greek atmos "vapor, steam" + spharia "sphere" (see sphere). Greek atmos is from PIE *awet-mo-, from root *wet- "to blow, inspire, spiritually arouse" (see wood (adj.)). First used in English in connection with the Moon, which, as it turns out, doesn't have one.

It is observed in the solary eclipses, that there is sometimes a great trepidation about the body of the moon, from which we may likewise argue an atmosphaera, since we cannot well conceive what so probable a cause there should be of such an appearance as this, Quod radii solares a vaporibus lunam ambitntibus fuerint intercisi, that the sun-beams were broken and refracted by the vapours that encompassed the moon. [Rev. John Wilkins, "Discovery of New World or Discourse tending to prove that it probable there may be another World in the Moon," 1638]

Figurative sense of "surrounding influence, mental or moral environment" is c.1800.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

atmosphere in Medicine




A gas surrounding a given body; a gaseous medium.
A unit of pressure equal to the air pressure at sea level, approximately equal to 1.01325 X 105 newtons per square meter.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

atmosphere in Science



The mixture of gases surrounding the Earth or other celestial body, held in place by gravity. It forms distinct layers at different heights. The Earth's atmosphere consists, in ascending order, of the troposphere (containing 90% of the atmosphere's mass), the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere. The atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%) and plays a major role in the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the carbon cycle. See more at exosphere mesosphere stratosphere thermosphere troposphere.
A unit of pressure equal to the pressure of the air at sea level, about 14.7 pounds per square inch, or 1,013 millibars.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

atmosphere in Culture


The blanket of gas on the surface of a planet or satellite.


The atmosphere of the Earth is roughly eighty percent nitrogen and twenty percent oxygen, with traces of other gases. (See ionosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.