Ether



[ee-ther] /ˈi θər/

noun
1.
Also called diethyl ether, diethyl oxide, ethyl ether, ethyl oxide, sulfuric ether. Chemistry, Pharmacology. a colorless, highly volatile, flammable liquid, C 4 H 10 O, 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.
2.
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.
3.
the upper regions of space; the clear sky; the heavens.
4.
the medium supposed by the ancients to fill the upper regions of space.
5.
Physics. a hypothetical substance supposed to occupy all space, postulated to account for the propagation of electromagnetic radiation through space.
/ˈiːθə/
noun
1.
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: C2H5OC2H5
2.
any of a class of organic compounds with the general formula ROR′ where R and R′ are alkyl groups, as in diethyl ether C2H5OC2H5
3.
the ether, the hypothetical medium formerly believed to fill all space and to support the propagation of electromagnetic waves
4.
(Greek myth) the upper regions of the atmosphere; clear sky or heaven
5.
a rare word for air
n.

late 14c., “upper regions of space,” from Old French ether and directly from Latin aether “the upper pure, bright air,” from Greek aither “upper air; bright, purer air; the sky,” from aithein “to burn, shine,” from PIE root *aidh- “to burn” (see edifice).

In ancient cosmology, the element that filled all space beyond the sphere of the moon, constituting the substance of the stars and planets. Conceived of as a purer form of fire or air, or as a fifth element. From 17c.-19c., it was the scientific word for an assumed “frame of reference” for forces in the universe, perhaps without material properties. The concept was shaken by the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) and discarded after the Theory of Relativity won acceptance, but before it went it gave rise to the colloquial use of ether for “the radio” (1899).

The name also was bestowed c.1730 (Frobenius; in English by 1757) on a volatile chemical compound known since 14c. for its lightness and lack of color (its anesthetic properties weren’t fully established until 1842).

ether e·ther (ē’thər)
n.

ether
(ē’thər)

language
A concurrent object-oriented language?
(1997-03-18)

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