Ether is a chemical that used to be a common anesthetic that you inhaled before undergoing surgery. In most countries, doctors have replaced it with less flammable, safer drugs.

The chemical ether is a colorless liquid that's still used as an anesthetic in some developing countries and as an industrial solvent. The Latin root is aether, which means "the upper pure, bright air." Ether was originally a scientific term for what 19th century physicists called "the fifth element," a substance that was said to fill all space and make up all bodies. In modern times, ether has come to be a literary term that refers to the sky.

Definitions of ether
  1. noun
    any of a class of organic compounds that have two hydrocarbon groups linked by an oxygen atom
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    type of:
    organic compound
    any compound of carbon and another element or a radical
  2. noun
    a colorless volatile highly inflammable liquid formerly used as an inhalation anesthetic
    synonyms: diethyl ether, divinyl ether, ethoxyethane, ethyl ether, vinyl ether
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    Ethrane, enflurane
    a nonflammable liquid (trade name Ethrane) used as an inhalation general anesthetic
    type of:
    inhalation anaesthetic, inhalation anesthetic, inhalation general anaesthetic, inhalation general anesthetic
    a gas that produces general anesthesia when inhaled
  3. noun
    a medium that was once supposed to fill all space and to support the propagation of electromagnetic waves
    synonyms: aether
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    type of:
    an intervening substance through which signals can travel as a means for communication
  4. noun
    the fifth and highest element after air and earth and fire and water; was believed to be the substance composing all heavenly bodies
    synonyms: quintessence
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    type of:
    one of four substances thought in ancient and medieval cosmology to constitute the physical universe
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