AskDefine | Define space

Dictionary Definition



1 the unlimited expanse in which everything is located; "they tested his ability to locate objects in space"
2 an empty area (usually bounded in some way between things); "the architect left space in front of the building"; "they stopped at an open space in the jungle"; "the space between his teeth"
3 an area reserved for some particular purpose; "the laboratory's floor space"
4 a blank character used to separate successive words in writing or printing; "he said the space is the most important character in the alphabet" [syn: blank]
5 the interval between two times; "the distance from birth to death"; "it all happened in the space of 10 minutes" [syn: distance]
6 a blank area; "write your name in the space provided" [syn: blank space, place]
7 one of the areas between or below or above the lines of a musical staff; "the spaces are the notes F-A-C-E"
8 (printing) a block of type without a raised letter; used for spacing between words [syn: quad] v : place at intervals; "Space the interviews so that you have some time between the different candidates"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , /speɪs/, /speIs/
  • Rhymes: -eɪs


From espace.


  1. The intervening contents of a volume.
  2. Space occupied by or intended for a person or thing.
    There's not enough space for this couch in this room.
  3. An area or volume of sufficient size to accommodate a person or thing.
    They reserved a space for him to park his car.
    Write your name in the space below.
  4. The area beyond the atmosphere of planets that consists of a vacuum.
  5. A gap between written characters; blank.
  6. A piece of type used to separate words.
  7. A set of points, each of which is uniquely specified by a set of coordinates; the number of coordinates specifying a point and the number of mutually perpendicular axes along which the coordinates lie are the same, and that is the number of dimensions of the space.
    We live in a space that has at least four dimensions: up-down, left-right, forward-backward, and future-past.
  8. One's personal freedom to think or be oneself.
    I just need some space, man.
  9. The state of mind one is in when daydreaming.
  10. a generalized construct or set, the members of which have certain properties in common; often used in combination with the name of a particular mathematician
  11. In the context of "Indian philosophy": One of the five basic elements.


  • (intervening contents of a volume):
  • (space occupied by or intended for a person or thing): room
  • (area or volume of sufficient size to accommodate a person or thing): place, spot
  • (area beyond the atmosphere of planets that consists of a vacuum): outer space
  • (gap between written characters): blank, gap, whitespace (computing)
  • (piece of type used to separate words):
  • (set of points each uniquely specified by a set of coordinates):
  • (person freedom to think or be oneself):
  • (state of mind one is in when daydreaming):
  • (generalized construct or set in mathematics):
  • (one of the five basic elements in Indian philosophy):

Derived terms


intervening contents of a volume
uncountable: space occupied by or intended for a person or thing
  • Czech: místo
  • French: espace
  • Hungarian: hely
  • Italian: spazio
  • Japanese: 空間, 場所
  • Portuguese: espaço
countable: an area or volume of sufficient size to accommodate a person or thing
  • French: place
  • Italian: posto
  • Japanese: 空間, 場所
  • Portuguese: espaço, lugar
area beyond atmosphere of planets
gap between written characters
typography: a piece of type used to separate words
  • French: espace
  • Japanese: 間隔
set of points
personal freedom
a state of mind one is in when daydreaming
  • Japanese: 空白
mathematics: a generalized construct or set
Indian philosophy: one of the five basic elements


  1. To be separated to a distance.
    The cities are evenly spaced.
  2. To eject into outer space.
    The captain spaced the traitors.


to be separated to a distance
to eject into outer space


Extensive Definition

Space is a boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction.
In classical mechanics, space was treated as being separate from time and is thought of as one of the few fundamental physical quantities. In Isaac Newton's view space was absolute, and held that it exists permanently and independently of whether there is any matter in the space or moving through it.
In mathematics spaces with different geometries and numbers of dimensions are described, and this is used in modern physics where both space and time are to be thought of as part of the boundless four-dimensional continuum known as spacetime. From the experimental support for Albert Einstein's theory of relativity scientists now find that space and time cannot be entirely separated. In addition, space is found to have physical properties including intrinsic curvature which varies according to mass distribution. Therefore it was Einstein's view that space and matter cannot be entirely separated either.
Among physicists and philosophers there is disagreement regarding whether space is itself an entity, or is part of a conceptual framework.

In philosophy

Space has a range of definitions:
  • One is a very important part in the fundamental structure of the universe, a set of dimensions in which objects are separated and located, have size and shape, & through which they can move.
  • A contrasting view is that space is part of a fundamental abstract mathematical conceptual framework (together with time and number) within which we compare and quantify the distance between objects, their sizes, their shapes, and their speeds. In this view, space does not refer to any kind of entity that is a "container" that objects "move through".
These opposing views are relevant also to definitions of time. Space is typically described as having three dimensions, see Three-dimensional space and that three numbers are needed to specify the size of any object and/or its location with respect to another location. Modern physics does not treat space and time as independent dimensions, but treats both as features of space-time – a conception that challenges intuitive notions of distance and time. An issue of philosophical debate is whether space is an ontological entity itself, or simply a conceptual framework humans need to think (and talk) about the world. Another way to frame this is to ask, "Can space itself be measured, or is space part of the measurement system?" The same debate applies also to time, and an important formulation in both areas was given by Immanuel Kant.
In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant described space as an a priori intuition that (together with another a priori intuition, time) allows us to comprehend sensual experience. Kant referred to such intuitions as noumena and as things in themselves. In Kant's view, neither space nor time are conceived of as substances, but rather both are elements of a systematic framework we use to structure our experience. Spatial measurements are used to quantify how far apart objects are, and temporal measurements are used to quantify how far apart events occur. However, these measurements are applied by our minds to categorize what we sense and are not an inherent part of the thing in itself. Similar philosophical questions concerning space include: Is space absolute or purely relational? Does space have one correct geometry, or is the geometry of space just a convention? Historical positions in these debates have been taken by Isaac Newton (space is absolute), Gottfried Leibniz (space is relational), and Henri Poincaré (spatial geometry is a convention). Two important thought-experiments connected with these questions are: Newton's bucket argument and Poincaré's sphere-world.


However, attempts to prove the axioms continually failed, and finally it was discovered that multiple axioms could be constructed that gave different geometries, non-Euclidean geometries, but that appeared Euclidean at very small sizes. This raised the question whether the nature of space itself at large scales was Euclidean or not.
In modern mathematics, spaces are frequently described as different types of Manifolds which are spaces that locally approximate to Euclidean space and where the properties are defined largely on local connectedness of points that lie on the manifold.


Classical mechanics

Space is one of the few fundamental quantities in physics, meaning that it cannot be defined via other quantities because there is nothing more fundamental known at present. On the other hand, it can be related to other fundamental quantities. Thus, similar to other fundamental quantities (like time and mass), space can be explored via measurement and experiment.


Astronomy is the science involved with the observation, explanation and measuring of objects in outer space.


Before Einstein's work on relativistic physics, time and space were viewed as independent dimensions. Einstein's discoveries have shown that due to relativity of motion our space and time can be mathematically combined into one object — spacetime. It turns out that distances in space or in time separately are not invariant with respect to Lorentz coordinate transformations, but distances in Minkowski space-time along space-time intervals are — which justifies the name.
In addition, time and space dimensions should not be viewed as exactly equivalent in Minkowski space-time. One can freely move in space but not in time. Thus, time and space coordinates are treated differently both in special relativity (where time is sometimes considered an imaginary coordinate) and in general relativity (where different signs are assigned to time and space components of spacetime metric).
Furthermore, from Einstein's general theory of relativity, it has been shown that space-time is geometrically distorted- curved -near to gravitationally significant masses.
Experiments are ongoing to attempt to directly measure gravitational waves. This is essentially solutions to the equations of general relativity which describe moving ripples of spacetime. Indirect evidence for this has been found in the motions of the Hulse-Taylor binary system.


Relativity theory lead to the cosmological question of what shape the universe is, and where space came from. It appears that space was created in the Big Bang and has been expanding ever since. The overall shape of space is not known, but space is known to be expanding very rapidly which is evident due to the Hubble expansion.

Spatial measurement

The measurement of physical space has long been important. Although earlier societies had developed measuring systems. The International System of Units, (SI), is now the most common system of units used in the measuring of space, and is almost universally used within science.
Currently, the standard space interval, called a standard meter or simply meter, is defined as the distance traveled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of exactly 1/299,792,458 of a second. This definition coupled with present definition of the second is based on the special theory of relativity, that our space-time is a Minkowski space.


Geography is the branch of science concerned with identifying and describing the Earth, utilizing spatial awareness to try and understand why things exist in specific locations. Cartography is the mapping of spaces to allow better navigation, for visualization purposes and to act as a locational device. Geostatistics apply statistical concepts to collected spatial data in order to create an estimate for unobserved phenomena.
Geographical space is often considered as land, and can have a relation to ownership usage (in which space is seen as property or territory). While some cultures assert the rights of the individual in terms of ownership, other cultures will identify with a communal approach to land ownership, while still other cultures such as Australian Aboriginals, rather than asserting ownership rights to land, invert the relationship and consider that they are in fact owned by the land. Spatial planning is a method of regulating the use of space at land-level, with decisions made at regional, national and international levels. Space can also impact on human and cultural behavior, being an important factor in architecture, where it will impact on the design of buildings and structures, and on farming.
Ownership of space is not restricted to land. Ownership of airspace and of waters is decided internationally. Other forms of ownership have been recently asserted to other spaces — for example to the radio bands of the electromagnetic spectrum or to cyberspace.
Public space is a term used to define areas of land as collectively owned by the community, and managed in their name by delegated bodies; such spaces are open to all. While private property is the land culturally owned by an individual or company, for their own use and pleasure.
Abstract space is a term used in geography to refer to a hypothetical space characterized by complete homogeneity. When modeling activity or behavior, it is a conceptual tool used to limit extraneous variables such as terrain.

In psychology

The way in which space is perceived is an area which psychologists first began to study in the middle of the 19th century, and it is now thought by those concerned with such studies to be a distinct branch within psychology. Psychologists analyzing the perception of space are concerned with how recognition of an object's physical appearance or its interactions are perceived.
Other, more specialized topics studied include amodal perception and object permanence. The perception of surroundings is important due to its necessary relevance to survival, especially with regards to hunting and self preservation as well as simply one's idea of personal space.
Several space-related phobias have been identified, including agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces), astrophobia (the fear of celestial space), claustrophobia (the fear of enclosed spaces), and kenophobia (the fear of empty spaces).


space in Arabic: مكان (فيزياء)
space in Catalan: Espai
space in Danish: Rum
space in German: Raum
space in Modern Greek (1453-): Χώρος
space in Spanish: Espacio
space in Esperanto: Spaco
space in Persian: فضا
space in French: Espace (notion)
space in Galician: Espazo
space in Korean: 공간
space in Ido: Spaco
space in Indonesian: Ruang
space in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Spatio
space in Italian: Spazio
space in Hebrew: מרחב
space in Hungarian: Tér
space in Macedonian: Простор
space in Dutch: Ruimte (geografie)
space in Japanese: 空間
space in Uzbek: Fazo
space in Polish: Przestrzeń
space in Portuguese: Espaço
space in Russian: Пространство
space in Albanian: Hapësira
space in Simple English: Space
space in Slovenian: prostor
space in Finnish: Avaruus
space in Swedish: Rymden
space in Turkish: Uzay
space in Ukrainian: Простір
space in Samogitian: Pluotmie
space in Chinese: 空间

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

3-D, CAT, accommodation, aerospace, aerosphere, aesthetic distance, air hole, air pocket, airspace, alien, align, allocate, allot, amount, ample scope, amplitude, aperture, apportion, area, arrange, array, astronomical unit, bar, bar line, belt, berth, bit, blank, blank check, brace, breadth, break, broaching, bump, burden, caesura, caliber, capacity, carte blanche, cavity, ceiling, celestial spaces, chaos, chasm, check, chronology, clearance, clearing, cleft, collocate, compass, compose, confines, content, continental shelf, continuity, cordage, corridor, cosmic space, country, crack, crosswind, cubic, cut, day, deal, deal out, deep space, degree, department, depths of space, dimensional, disclosure, discontinuity, dispart, dispose, distance, distance between, distribute, district, divergence, division, double space, duration, duree, elbowroom, em, em quad, em space, empty space, en, en quad, en space, environs, ether space, expanse, expansion, extent, exterrestrial, extramundane, extrasolar, extraterrene, extraterrestrial, farness, fateful moment, favorable wind, fenestra, field, fistula, five-em space, fix, flat, fog, fontanel, foramen, four-em space, fourth-dimensional, free course, free hand, free play, free scope, freeboard, front, full scope, full swing, gap, gape, gat, grade, ground, gulf, hair space, half space, head wind, heartland, height, hiatus, high-pressure area, hinterland, hole, hollow, hour, infinity, inlet, instant, interim, intermediate space, intermission, interruption, interspace, interstellar space, interstice, interval, ionosphere, jetstream, jump, juncture, justification space, justifying space, kairos, keep apart, lacuna, land, lapse, lastingness, latitude, lay out, laying open, leak, leap, ledger line, leeway, length, level, light-year, light-years, limit, line, line up, long rope, low-pressure area, make a space, maneuvering space, margin, mark, marshal, measure, measure out, metagalactic space, mileage, milieu, minute, moment, moment of truth, neighborhood, no holds barred, notch, nuance, ocean of emptiness, offshore rights, open space, opening, opening up, order, organize, orifice, otherworldly, outer space, outlet, overcast, parcel out, parsec, parsecs, part, parts, pas, passageway, patent space, pause, peg, period, perspective, piece, pitch, place, plane, plateau, play, pocket, point, pore, poundage, precincts, pregnant moment, premises, pressureless space, proportion, proportional, psychological moment, psychological time, purlieus, quad, quadrat, quantity, quarter, rally, range, rank, ratio, reach, regiment, region, remoteness, remove, room, rope, roughness, round, rung, salient, scale, scope, sea room, season, seat, section, separate, separation, set apart, set at intervals, set out, shade, shadow, single space, slot, slug, soil, soup, space between, space out, space-time, spaceband, spaciousness, span, spatial, spatiotemporal, spell, spherical, split, spread, staff, stage, stair, standard, stave, step, stereoscopic, stint, stoma, stowage, stratosphere, stretch, stride, substratosphere, superficial, surface, swing, tail wind, tense, term, terrain, territory, the future, the past, the present, the void, the void above, thick space, thin space, three-dimensional, three-mile limit, throwing open, tide, time, time interval, time lag, timebinding, tolerance, tonnage, transcendental, transmundane, tread, tropopause, troposphere, trough, turbulence, twelve-mile limit, two-dimensional, uncorking, unstopping, vicinage, vicinity, visibility, visibility zero, volume, volumetric, wait, way, ways, whet, while, wide berth, yawn, zone
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