verb (used with object), sphered, spher·ing.

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 formssphere·less, adjectivesphere·like, adjectivesub·sphere, nounun·spher·ing, adjective

Synonyms for sphere


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).
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sphere

Contemporary Examples of sphere

Historical Examples of sphere

  • 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.

  • 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.

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 = r ², where r is the radius and (a, b, c) are the coordinates of the centre; surface area: 4π r ²; volume: 4π r ³/3
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; environmentthat's out of my sphere
a social class or stratum of society

verb (tr) mainly poetic

to surround or encircle
to place aloft or in the heavens

Word Origin for sphere

C14: from Late Latin sphēra, from Latin sphaera globe, from Greek sphaira


n combining form

having the shape or form of a spherebathysphere
indicating a spherelike enveloping massatmosphere
Derived Forms-spheric, adj combining form
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 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

sphere in Medicine




A ball-shaped or a globular body.
Related formsspheral (sfîrəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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