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See also: sphère, -sphere, and -sphère


A two-dimensional perspective projection of a sphere
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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English spere, from Old French sphere, from Late Latin sphēra, earlier Latin sphaera (ball, globe, celestial sphere), from Ancient Greek σφαῖρα (sphaîra, ball, globe), of unknown origin. Not related to superficially similar Persian سپهر(sepehr, sky) (Can this(+) etymology be sourced?).



sphere (plural spheres)

  1. (mathematics) A regular three-dimensional object in which every cross-section is a circle; the figure described by the revolution of a circle about its diameter [from 14th c.].
  2. A spherical physical object; a globe or ball. [from 14th c.]
    • 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:
      Of celestial bodies, first the sun, / A mighty sphere, he framed.
    • 2011 July 6, Piers Sellers, The Guardian:
      So your orientation changes a little bit but it sinks in that the world is a sphere, and you're going around it, sometimes under it, sideways, or over it.
  3. (astronomy, now rare) The apparent outer limit of space; the edge of the heavens, imagined as a hollow globe within which celestial bodies appear to be embedded. [from 14th c.]
    • 1635, John Donne, His parting form her:
      Though cold and darkness longer hang somewhere, / Yet Phoebus equally lights all the Sphere.
    • 1791, Erasmus Darwin, The Economy of Vegetation, J. Johnson, page 190:
      Resistless rolls the illimitable sphere, / And one great circle forms the unmeasured year.
  4. (historical, astronomy, mythology) Any of the concentric hollow transparent globes formerly believed to rotate around the Earth, and which carried the heavenly bodies; there were originally believed to be eight, and later nine and ten; friction between them was thought to cause a harmonious sound (the music of the spheres). [from 14th c.]
  5. (mythology) An area of activity for a planet; or by extension, an area of influence for a god, hero etc. [from 14th c.]
  6. (figuratively) The region in which something or someone is active; one's province, domain. [from 17th c.]
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XVIII, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume II, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 203:
      ...while his sweet and gentle niece would be a charming companion for Francesca; and he thought, with a glow of affection long unfelt, that Lucy Aylmer must inevitably make a friend whose future kindness might add much to her happiness. Both were at present placed out of their sphere: but the one would in all probability have it greatly in her power to cherish and aid the other.
    • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, I.20:
      They thought – originally on grounds derived from religion – that each thing or person had its or his proper sphere, to overstep which is ‘unjust’.
  7. (geometry) The set of all points in three-dimensional Euclidean space (or n-dimensional space, in topology) that are a fixed distance from a fixed point [from 20th c.].
  8. (logic) The extension of a general conception, or the totality of the individuals or species to which it may be applied.


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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.


sphere (third-person singular simple present spheres, present participle sphering, simple past and past participle sphered)

  1. (transitive) To place in a sphere, or among the spheres; to ensphere.
  2. (transitive) To make round or spherical; to perfect.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for “sphere”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)

See also[edit]


Middle French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


sphere f (plural spheres)

  1. sphere (shape)


  • French: sphère

Old French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


sphere f (oblique plural spheres, nominative singular sphere, nominative plural spheres)

  1. sphere (shape)



  • Godefroy, Frédéric, Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle (1881) (sphere, supplement)