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From Middle English space, from Anglo-Norman space, variant of espace, espas et al., and spaze, variant of espace, from Latin spatium, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)peh₂- (to stretch, to pull).


  • enPR: spās, IPA(key): /speɪs/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: space
  • Rhymes: -eɪs


space (countable and uncountable, plural spaces)

  1. (heading) Unlimited or generalized extent, physical or otherwise.
    1. Distance between things. [from 14thc.]
      Synonyms: break, gap; see also Thesaurus:interspace
      • c. 1606–1607, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene iii], page 347, column 2:
        But neere him, thy Angell / Becomes a feare: as being o're-powr'd, therefore / Make ſpace enough betweene you.
      • 2001 November 3, Sam Wollaston, “Russian around”, in The Guardian[1]:
        Which means that for every car there was 10 years ago, there are now 40. Which means - and this is my own, not totally scientific, calculation - that the space between cars on the roads in 1991 was roughly 39 car lengths, because today there is no space at all.
    2. Physical extent across two or three dimensions (sometimes for or to do something). [from 14thc.]
      Synonyms: area, volume
      • c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene iii], page 364, column 1:
        O God, I could be bounded in a nutſhell, and / count my ſelfe a King of infinite ſpace; were it not that / I haue bad dreames.
      • 2007 May 12, Dominic Bradbury, “Lost and found - an artist's voyage from city to country”, in The Guardian[2]:
        They also wanted a larger garden and more space for home working.
    3. Physical extent in all directions, seen as an attribute of the universe (now usually considered as a part of space-time), or a mathematical model of this. [from 17thc.]
      • 1656, Thomas Hobbes, Elements of Philosophy, section II:
        Space is the Phantasme of a Thing existing without the Mind simply.
      • 1880 August, Popular Science:
        These are not questions which can be decided by reference to our space intuitions, for our intuitions are confined to Euclidean space, and even there are insufficient, approximative.
      • 2007 April 15, Anushka Asthana, David Smith, The Observer:
        The early results from Gravity Probe B, one of Nasa's most complicated satellites, confirmed yesterday 'to a precision of better than 1 per cent' the assertion Einstein made 90 years ago - that an object such as the Earth does indeed distort the fabric of space and time.
    4. The near-vacuum in which planets, stars and other celestial objects are situated; the universe beyond the earth's atmosphere. [from 17thc.]
      Synonym: outer space
      the first man in space
      • 1667, John Milton, “Book VII”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 86–90:
        How firſt began this Heav'n which we behold / Diſtant ſo high, with moving Fires adornd / Innumerable, and this which yeelds or fills / All ſpace, the ambient Aire wide interfus'd / Imbracing round this florid Earth, []
      • 1900 December – 1901 August, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, The First Men in the Moon, London: George Newnes, [], published 1901, →OCLC:
        After all, to go into outer space is not so much worse, if at all, than a polar expedition.
      • 2010 August 9, Stephen Hawking, quotee, “Stephen Hawking: mankind must colonise space or die out”, in The Guardian[3]:
        The human race must colonise space within the next two centuries or it will become extinct, Stephen Hawking warned today.
    5. The physical and psychological area one needs within which to live or operate; personal freedom. [from 20thc.]
      • 1996, Linda Brodkey, Writing Permitted in Designated Areas Only:
        Around the time of my parents' divorce, I learned that reading could also give me space.
      • 2008, Jimmy Treigle, Walking on Water:
        "I care about you Billy, whether you believe it or not; but right now I need my space."
  2. (heading) Of time.
    1. (now rare, archaic) Free time; leisure, opportunity. [from 14thc.]
      Synonyms: leisure time, spare time
    2. A specific (specified) period of time. [from 14thc.]
      Synonyms: duration, span; see also Thesaurus:period
      • 1893, Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman, Giles Corey:
        I pray you, sirs, to take some cheers the while I go for a moment's space to my poor afflicted child.
      • 2007 October 20, Andy Bull, “We wozn't robbed!”, in The Guardian[5]:
        The match was lost, though, in the space of just twenty minutes or so.
      • 2011 September 29, Jon Smith, “Tottenham 3-1 Shamrock Rovers”, in BBC Sport:
        But their lead lasted just 10 minutes before Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe both headed home in the space of two minutes to wrestle back control.
    3. An undefined period of time (without qualifier, especially a short period); a while. [from 15thc.]
      Synonyms: spell, while; see also Thesaurus:uncertain period
  3. (heading) A bounded or specific extent, physical or otherwise.
    1. A (chiefly empty) area or volume with set limits or boundaries. [from 14thc.]
      • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter II, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
        Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, []. Even such a boat as the Mount Vernon offered a total deck space so cramped as to leave secrecy or privacy well out of the question, even had the motley and democratic assemblage of passengers been disposed to accord either.
      • 2000, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Islam and Gender:
        The street door was open, and we entered a narrow space with washing facilities, curtained off from the courtyard.
      • 2012 July 16, Charlotte Higgins, “Tate Modern unlocks Tanks – and introduces live art into mainstream”, in The Guardian[6]:
        Converted from vast chambers beneath the old Bankside Power Station which once held a million gallons of oil, the new public areas consist of two large circular spaces for performances and film installations, plus a warren of smaller rooms.
    2. (music) A position on the staff or stave bounded by lines. [from 15thc.]
      • 1849, Guillaume Louis Bocquillon-Wilhem, translated by John Pyke Hullah, Wilhelm's Method of Teaching Singing:
        The note next above Sol is La; La, therefore, stands in the 2nd space; Si, on the 3rd line, &c.
      • 1990, Sammy Nzioki, Music Time:
        The lines and spaces of the staff are named according to the first seven letters of the alphabet, that is, A B C D E F G.
    3. A gap in text between words, lines etc., or a digital character used to create such a gap. [from 16thc.]
      Synonyms: blank, gap, (graphic design) whitespace
      Hypernym: punctuation mark
      • 1992, Sam H Ham, Environmental Interpretation:
        According to experts, a single line of text should rarely exceed about 50 characters (including letters and all the spaces between words).
      • 2005, Dr BR Kishore, Dynamic Business Letter Writing:
        It should be typed a space below the salutation : Dear Sir, Subject : Replacement of defective items.
    4. (letterpress typography) A piece of metal type used to separate words, cast lower than other type so as not to take ink, especially one that is narrower than one en (compare quad). [from 17thc.]
      Synonyms: quad, quadrat
      • 1683, Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises: Or, the Doctrine of Handy-Works. Applied to the art of Printing.[7], volume 2, pages 240–1:
        If it be only a Single Letter or two that drops, he thruſts the end of his Bodkin between every Letter of that Word, till he comes to a Space: and then perhaps by forcing thoſe Letters closer, he may have room to put in another Space or a Thin Space; which if he cannot do, and he finds the Space ſtand Looſe in the Form; he with the Point of his Bodkin picks the Space up and bows it a little; which bowing makes the Letters on each ſide of the Space keep their parallel diſtance; for by its Spring it thruſts the Letters that were cloſed with the end of the Bodkin to their adjunct Letters, that needed no cloſing.
      • 1979, Marshall Lee, Bookmaking, page 110:
        Horizontal spacing is further divided into multiples and fractions of the em. The multiples are called quads. The fractions are called spaces.
      • 2005, Phil Baines, Andrew Haslam, Type & Typography, 2nd edition, page 91:
        Other larger spaces – known as quads – were used to space out lines.
    5. A gap; an empty place. [from 17thc.]
      • 2004, Harry M Benshoff, editor, Queer Cinéma:
        Mainstream Hollywood would not cater to the taste for sexual sensation, which left a space for B-movies, including noir.
      • 2009, Barbara L. Lev, From Pink to Green:
        A horizontal scar filled the space on her chest where her right breast used to be.
    6. (geometry) A set of points, each of which is uniquely specified by a number (the dimensionality) of coordinates.
    7. (countable, mathematics) A generalized construct or set whose members have some property in common; typically there will be a geometric metaphor allowing these members to be viewed as "points". Often used with a restricting modifier describing the members (e.g. vector space), or indicating the inventor of the construct (e.g. Hilbert space). [from 20thc.]
      Functional analysis is best approached through a sound knowledge of Hilbert space theory.
    8. (countable, figuratively) A field, area, or sphere of activity or endeavour.
      innovation in the browser space
      • 2019, Ryan Derousseau, The Everything Guide to Investing in Cryptocurrency [] , Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 269:
        CNBC has shown a greater commitment to the crypto space than most other mainstream outlets, providing daily updates on bitcoin or other very large cryptocurrencies.
      • 2020, Alexia Moncrieff, Expertise, Authority and Control, Cambridge University Press, page 187:
        [T]hey became responsible for managing aspects of civilian labour in the medical space, and their roles were contrasted with those of the female physiotherapists in the hospital.
    9. Anything analogous to a physical space in which one can interact, such as an online chat room.
      • 2007, Jacob van Kokswijk, Digital Ego: Social and Legal Aspects of Virtual Identity, page 88:
        Communication in Internet chat spaces allows participants to communicate so freely in the relative safety of anonymity that they forget their privacy.


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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]



space (third-person singular simple present spaces, present participle spacing, simple past and past participle spaced)

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To roam, walk, wander.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, IV.ii:
      But she as Fayes are wont, in priuie place / Did spend her dayes, and lov'd in forests wyld to space.
  2. (transitive) To set some distance apart.
    Faye had spaced the pots at 8-inch intervals on the windowsill.
    The cities are evenly spaced.
  3. To insert or utilise spaces in a written text.
    This paragraph seems badly spaced.
  4. To space out (become distracted, lose focus).
    • 1986 August 16, “Happy Birthday Doo (personal advertisement)”, in Gay Community News, volume 14, number 5, page 13:
      My sprout, like I'm totally spaced over you and besides I like older women (arh-arh). I love you...
  5. (transitive, science fiction) To kill someone by ejecting them into outer space, usually without a space suit.
    The captain spaced the traitors.
  6. (intransitive, science fiction) To travel into and through outer space.
    • 1947 January, Bernard I. Kahn, “Command”, in Astounding Science Fiction, volume 38, number 5:
      He well remembered, when he was a junior officer, how the sight of a well dressed, impeccably neat commanding officer, no matter how long they had been spacing, maintained the enthusiasm, confidence and morale of the officers and men.

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Old French[edit]


space oblique singularm (oblique plural spaces, nominative singular spaces, nominative plural space)

  1. Alternative form of espace