Definition of sphere in US English:



  • 1A round solid figure, or its surface, with every point on its surface equidistant from its center.

    • ‘Mysterious figures and spheres often show up in tourist pictures.’
    • ‘There's a particularly good 3D Objects tool, which lets you create modelled spheres, cubes, rectangles cones, pyramids, toroids and more effortlessly.’
    • ‘The humans in the painting reveal the geometric shapes, volume in sphere, oval, cylinder or ellipses.’
    • ‘Maybe it derives from the curious balance between the objects - basically, polygons and spheres - or perhaps from the matte and reflective surface contrasts.’
    • ‘A plane surface, or the surface of a sphere, is two dimensional, right?’
    • ‘For ease of mathematical solution, the load is considered to be a symmetrical shape, such as a sphere or a long cylinder.’
    • ‘In addition to square, rectangular, and circular crackers, I managed to find ovals, triangles, hexagons, stars, and even spheres, cubes, and cones.’
    • ‘He often compared life to the sine wave or the sphere.’
    • ‘Also it is finite and spherical; for it cannot be in one direction any more than in another, and the sphere is the only figure of which this can be said.’
    • ‘Diagrams of spheres and collaged textural elements are part of a surface crowded with fragments.’
    • ‘This demo draws a cube and a sphere on the screen.’
    • ‘At this stage, the blastula is in the form of a hollow sphere with radial symmetry.’
    • ‘The only thing that kept this room from being a perfect sphere was the cylinder jutting from the wall to collect waste matter.’
    • ‘Perhaps it is more aptly described not as a sphere but as spheres.’
    • ‘Gestures for describing cubes, spheres, and so on are translated into corresponding digital forms.’
    • ‘The Ball is a geodesic sphere, six feet in diameter, covered with 504 triangular pieces of crystal featuring original Waterford Crystal designs.’
    • ‘Poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics, which gives us equations, not for abstract figures, triangles, spheres, and the like, but equations for human emotions.’
    1. 1.1 An object having a round solid shape; a ball or globe.
      • ‘The mystical warrior balled up his fist, summoning a sphere of black energy, which was surrounded by purple lightening, and flung it into the air.’
      • ‘As the concert progressed this balloon gave birth to a sphere, which then disgorged a giant plastic ball.’
      • ‘Those spheres scorched the black sky in colours of red and gold and burned groves into the ground upon landing.’
      • ‘Somehow, years worth of earwax had built up inside of his canals and formed two big black spheres of dirt.’
      • ‘They seemed to have no intention of stopping either and they were only spurred on when the Shadowman started throwing black spheres of corrosive black energy at her.’
      • ‘The sphere looked much like a dark crystal ball with swirling colors, all dark shades, mixing and moving inside.’
      • ‘The archon floated over to a shiny sphere filled with orbiting balls of light.’
      • ‘He saw a large ghost pulling on a long lever, at the opposite end of which a plunger crushed a smiling white ball into a billiard-sized sphere.’
      • ‘He then merely raised his hands above his head and ancient phrases started to escape from his lips as a black sphere of nothingness started to appear between his palms.’
      • ‘A black sphere surrounded with bolts of lightening then appeared.’
      • ‘As she breaks the surface, there is a slight audible pop, much like that of a soap bubble, and the sphere dissolves in a small flash of many colors.’
      • ‘Not expecting a response, Sarah is startled when, as a dark wind blows, Jareth appears in a sparkling black robe, wielding magical glass spheres and offering an ultimatum.’
      • ‘The black sphere was getting bigger every nanosecond.’
      • ‘His eye notices a tiny sphere of black in the wet soil.’
      • ‘The denouement is a huge canvas, a good 20 cm deep, with a cluster of faces contained in bubble-like spheres.’
      • ‘When all are on it, the whale creates a bubble-like sphere around it.’
      • ‘His eyes intently focused on the black sphere in the middle of the lab.’
      • ‘West remembered seeing the small black spheres on the walls.’
      • ‘In her mind she could extend a mental sphere around her body and no matter what she was looking at she could see everything that happened within that circle.’
      • ‘There, in perfect view, a glowing sphere of blues and whites and greens magnified in the black sky.’
      globe, ball, orb, spheroid, globule, round
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    2. 1.2 A globe representing the earth.
      • ‘Bob then lifted his hand to waist height and then turned it palm side up, a light then came from Bob's hand and formed a sphere that looked like earth.’
      • ‘A new logo was also designed for the Airport, consisting of a bird in flight, silhouetted against a sphere or the earth's globe.’
      • ‘These will include a 20-metre sphere representing the Earth.’
      world, globe, planet, orb
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    3. 1.3literary A celestial body.
      • ‘Planets float about the sphere as satellites, the bright sun rakes across its surface, and you want to move under it and explore the space beneath this levitating orb.’
      • ‘Anyway, the large sphere is the planet, obviously.’
      • ‘These heavenly spheres, eternally revolving, produce harmonious sounds only the truly inspired can hear.’
      • ‘The symbol of the sun and moon lay embossed on the frontal bind, the lunar sphere overtaking the sun in wars of dark and light.’
      • ‘The twin suns of Safi and Soka were discernible as bloated yellow-red spheres just over the horizon.’
    4. 1.4literary The sky perceived as a vault upon or in which celestial bodies are represented as lying.
    5. 1.5 Each of a series of revolving concentrically arranged spherical shells in which celestial bodies were formerly thought to be set in a fixed relationship.
      • ‘As a result, humanistic theories sometimes seem more optimistic than realistic, and more appropriate for managing the heavenly spheres than a real assembly plant or fast food franchise.’
      • ‘Aristotle's geocentric astronomy, which attaches the heavenly bodies to a series of concentric spheres, was not his own creation.’
      • ‘He knew the stars to be attached to crystal spheres revolving about the Earth.’
      • ‘But Copernicus kept the old astronomy by retaining the system of spheres and epicycles.’
      • ‘The spheres above man contain the heavenly bodies, the angels and finally, God.’
  • 2An area of activity, interest, or expertise; a section of society or an aspect of life distinguished and unified by a particular characteristic.

    ‘political reforms to match those in the economic sphere’
    ‘his new wife's skill in the domestic sphere’
    • ‘It may be permissible to call them economic conflicts because they concern that sphere of human life which is, in common speech, known as the sphere of economic activities.’
    • ‘There is no doubt that the preceding generations of Russian Navy servicemen thoroughly used the war experience in all spheres of naval activity.’
    • ‘In civil society and the public sphere, myriad groups interact and seek to influence each other.’
    • ‘This development has major consequences, particularly for women who are often required to withdraw from the public and male-controlled spheres of society.’
    • ‘However, this is not to be equated with genuine globalization in the economic sphere, and the extent of this has been exaggerated.’
    • ‘Few of us had emerged so far into the public sphere of largely male activity that the guys had actually noticed the shift.’
    • ‘In the past, the Malays were tied to their agrarian communities, and the British brought in Chinese and Indians to partake in different spheres of economic activities.’
    • ‘However, this is to exclude the role of civil society and the public sphere from this process.’
    • ‘Important aspects of this public sphere were newspapers, literary journals, reading societies, and salons.’
    • ‘Public and private spheres of human activity have always been considered distinct, and have been regulated accordingly.’
    • ‘In other areas of the public sphere, most people are in favour of an egalitarian system, even if it's slower.’
    • ‘In the economic sphere, Cuba has promoted Internet development in areas that can generate hard currency and shore up the regime economically.’
    • ‘They based their nation-building activities and their participation in the politics of the public sphere on their maternal role in society.’
    • ‘With the birth of trade unionism, women became important in the economic sphere, although the male-dominated society did not accept women as political equals.’
    • ‘This can be seen in the following quotation, in which Pareto connects interests with the economic sphere.’
    • ‘It is indispensable that all of us, including people living with HIV-AIDS, our leaders in all spheres of society and our media, actively collaborate in this effort.’
    • ‘Rather than acquiesce, many women won a voice in the public sphere by forming societies and clubs for self-improvement and community reform.’
    • ‘External factors are also important in the case of social institutions outside the economic sphere.’
    • ‘The largest gulf separates the two men on the role of the market in the public sphere.’
    • ‘At first they used their political power to drive Hindus and Sikhs out of the bureaucratic, economic and educational spheres.’
    domain, realm, province, field, area, region, territory, arena, department
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[with object]archaic
  • 1Enclose in or as if in a sphere.

    1. 1.1 Form into a rounded or perfect whole.


  • music (or harmony) of the spheres

    • literary The natural harmonic tones supposedly produced by the movement of the celestial spheres or the bodies fixed in them.

      • ‘By generating form from these, architects can claim to be in touch with the inner structures of the universe, or even the music of the spheres.’
      • ‘The pair sing you into submission and their voices complement each other so beautifully that you have to stop and wonder if, maybe, somewhere in the music of the spheres, there really is a God.’
      • ‘A cosmic impresario, he took on nothing less than the task of illustrating, arranging, producing and distributing the music of the spheres.’
      • ‘Metallica wasn't the first band to find the music of the spheres in the relentless stampede of jackhammer guitars, nor the heaviest by far.’
      • ‘One will find, however, a belief in the music of the spheres.’
      • ‘One of his recent pieces, Sol's Violin connects his interest in electronic music with one of the holy grails of human investigation, the music of the spheres.’
      • ‘A young man in a desolate Hungarian town is devoted to his elderly uncle, a musicologist working on a revisionist theory of the music of the spheres.’
      • ‘Elsewhere, though, such repetition sounds the music of the spheres.’
      • ‘In the background I can almost hear the tinkling music of the spheres.’
      • ‘Only at the end of the section does he hone the poem down from the music of the spheres to the more palpable sphere of a doorknob.’
  • sphere of influence (or interest)

    • 1A country or area in which another country has power to affect developments although it has no formal authority.

      • ‘It was characterised by the arms race between the two superpowers who were eager to preserve their spheres of influence.’
      • ‘Several major competing capitalist powers existed and the world had been divided into spheres of interest, so any future battles had to be for the redivision of territory and power.’
      • ‘France was the most active of the European colonial powers in attempting to maintain a sphere of influence amongst its former territories.’
      • ‘This province was a German sphere of influence and Germany dominated the rail lines, factories and coal mines that existed in Shantung.’
      • ‘Or can his actions be explained as essentially defensive and reactive in response to growing American meddling in areas of traditional Russian spheres of influence?’
      • ‘However, he cautions the reader to keep in mind the wars fought by the United Kingdom to expand its sphere of influence.’
      • ‘It divided eastern and central Europe into a German and a Soviet sphere of influence within which each power was free to undertake military invasions without retribution from the other power.’
      • ‘The Cold War was a result of this division of power and of the important policy of spheres of influence.’
      • ‘Once a powerful kingdom whose sphere of influence stretched from the Levante in the west as far as Naples and Sicily in the east, Aragon is now one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.’
      • ‘Some may develop strategies to deny foes the ability to project power into their spheres of influence.’
      area, field, compass, orbit
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      1. 1.1A field or area in which an individual or organization has power to affect events and developments.
        • ‘These value chains are moreover often populated with middlemen who prosper by taking a ‘cut’ out of every transaction they organize within their sphere of influence.’
        • ‘As the hubs of international networks, major companies form spheres of influence and power over numbers of affiliated and collaborating business units.’
        • ‘Additionally, there are many people working within the City of Edmonton who recognize the need for sustainable urban form and are exercising their sphere of influence to bring this into being.’
        • ‘The survey, carried out by Opinion Leader Research, used a panel drawn from different spheres of influence to gauge their wishes and concerns for 2002.’
        • ‘Adam's two closest friends, Jenny and Phil, notice these changes and eventually become skeptical of Evelyn's sphere of influence.’
        • ‘After all, in circumstances such as this he could only allow two possibilities for this organization: either it come under his sphere of influence, or it must be destroyed.’
        • ‘Second, preserving multiple spheres of influence and expertise stimulates research on and healthy competition over statistical methodologies and approaches.’
        • ‘You need to transfer that knowledge to new arenas and spread your sphere of influence.’
        • ‘The contingency view of strategic change assumes that the organization is composed of various spheres of interest which need to be in balance for the organization to survive.’
        • ‘As nurses continue to broaden their spheres of influence in areas, such as hospital corporate staff, hospital and community boards, and college administration, there is a need to enhance professional etiquette skills.’
        domain, province, realm, sphere, field of influence, sphere of influence, dominion, area of power, department, territory, field, arena, zone, orbit
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Middle English: from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira ‘ball’.