[ ee-ther ]
/ ˈi θər /
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Also called diethyl ether, diethyl oxide, ethyl ether, ethyl oxide, sulfuric ether .Chemistry, Pharmacology. a colorless, highly volatile, flammable liquid, C4H10O, 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.
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.
the upper regions of space; the clear sky; the heavens.
the medium supposed by the ancients to fill the upper regions of space.
Physics. a hypothetical substance supposed to occupy all space, postulated to account for the propagation of electromagnetic radiation through space.
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Also ae·ther (for defs. 3-5) .

Origin of ether

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin aethēr “the upper air, pure air, ether,” from Greek aithḗr, akin to aíthein “to glow, burn,” Old English ād “funeral pyre,” Latin aestus “heat”


e·ther·ic [ih-ther-ik, ih-theer-], /ɪˈθɛr ɪk, ɪˈθɪər-/, adjectivesu·per·e·ther, noun


either, ether
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ether in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ether

/ (ˈiːθə) /

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: C 2 H 5 OC 2 H 5
any of a class of organic compounds with the general formula ROR′ where R and R′ are alkyl groups, as in diethyl ether C 2 H 5 OC 2 H 5
the ether the hypothetical medium formerly believed to fill all space and to support the propagation of electromagnetic waves
Greek myth the upper regions of the atmosphere; clear sky or heaven
a rare word for air
Also (for senses 3–5): aether

Derived forms of ether

etheric (iːˈθɛrɪk), adjective

Word Origin for ether

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

Scientific definitions for ether

[ ēthər ]

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.
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.
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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.