Etymology dictionary

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(q.v.); extended sense of "light, airy" is from 1598."><strong><font color="#800020">ether</font></strong></a> 1398, from L. æther</em> "the upper pure, bright air," from Gk. aither</em> "upper air," from aithein</em> "to burn, shine," from I.E. base *aidh-</em> "to burn" (cf. Skt. inddhe</em> "burst into flames," O.Ir. aed</em> "fire," L. aedes; see

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</em> for “the radio” (1899). The name also was bestowed 1757 on a volatile chemical compound for its lightness and lack of color (its anesthetic properties weren’t fully established until 1842).

1838, modeled on Ger. from Gk. (see is from 1852; first recorded 1873. 1929, formed from Ger. contraction of from "vinegar" "ether." Polyester fiber was discovered 1941. ; c.1430, in ancient and medieval philosophy, "pure essence, substance of which the heavenly bodies are composed," lit. "fifth essence," from M.Fr. quinte essence (14c.), from M.L. quinta essentia; from L. quinta; fem. of (see

. Loan-translation of Gk. pempte ousia; the "ether" added by Aristotle to the four known elements (water, earth, fire, air) and said to permeate all things. Its extraction was one of the chief goals of alchemy. Sense of "purest essence" (of a situation, character, etc.) is first recorded 1570; quintessential (n.)</em> is from 1899, in this sense.

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