E"ther (?), n. [L. aether, Gr. , fr. to light up, kindle, burn, blaze; akin to Skr. idh, indh, and prob. to E. idle: cf. F. 'ether.]

>[Written also aether.]

1. Physics

A medium of great elasticity and extreme tenuity, supposed to pervade all space, the interior of solid bodies not excepted, and to be the medium of transmission of light and heat; hence often called luminiferous ether.


Supposed matter above the air; the air itself.

3. Chem. (a)

A light, volatile, mobile, inflammable liquid, (C2H5)2O, of a characteristic aromatic odor, obtained by the distillation of alcohol with sulphuric acid, and hence called also sulphuric ether. It is powerful solvent of fats, resins, and pyroxylin, but finds its chief use as an anaesthetic. Called also ethyl oxide.

<-- also commonly, ethyl ether. --> (b)

Any similar oxide of hydrocarbon radicals; as, amyl ether; valeric ether.

Complex ether, Mixed ether Chem., an oxide of two different radicals in the same molecule; as, ethyl methyl ether, C2H5.O.CH3. -- Compound ether Chem., an ethereal salt or a salt of some hydrocarbon as the base; an ester. -- Ether engine Mach., a condensing engine like a steam engine, but operated by the vapor of ether instead of by steam.


© Webster 1913.