Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The outer part of the earth, consisting of the crust and upper mantle, approximately 100 km (62 mi.) thick.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The rigid, mechanically strong, outer layer of the Earth; divided into twelve major plates

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The solid earth as distinguished from its fluid envelopes, the hydrosphere and atmosphere.
  • n. The outer part of the solid earth, the portion undergoing change through the gradual transfer of material by volcanic eruption, the circulation of underground water, and the process of erosion and deposition. It is, therefore, regarded as a third mobile envelope comparable with the hydrosphere and atmosphere.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The crust of the earth: a designation corresponding with atmosphere and hydrosphere. [Little used.]

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the solid part of the earth consisting of the crust and outer mantle

Etymologies

From litho- +‎ sphere (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Plate tectonics is the scientific theory that describes the movement of Earth's upper mantle and crust, known as the lithosphere.

    The Royal Society of London announces the 2011 Copley Medal winner

  • The lithosphere is a layer that includes the crust and the upper most portion of the asthenosphere (Figure 2).

    Structure of the Earth

  • A list of the solid substances of the earth making up the so-called lithosphere (or rock sphere) in order of their abundance, does not at all correspond to a list made in order of commercial importance.

    The Economic Aspect of Geology

  • The lithosphere is the more or less stable crust of the earth, which may have been, to begin with, about fifty miles in thickness.

    The Outline of Science, Vol. 1 (of 4) A Plain Story Simply Told

  • The Crust: The crust or the lithosphere is the outermost layer of the Earth made up of silicate rock materials.

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  • Our work shows that the lithosphere, that is, the solid rock part, plays a very important role in regulating the surface evolution of the Earth.

    Media Newswire

  • Together the crust and upper mantle are called the lithosphere and they extend about 80 km deep.

    Recently Uploaded Slideshows

  • Changes in the lithosphere created major land masses and extensive shallow seas.

    Geologic time

  • They travel at a speed of about 5 to 7 kilometers per second through the lithosphere and about 8 kilometers per second in the asthenosphere.

    Earthquake

  • Body waves are seismic waves that travel through the lithosphere.

    Earthquake

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Comments

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  • I never really thought about rock the same way after learning this word. It also reminds me of another fun word I learned recently: lithobraking.

    If you want to read a something that uses the word lithosphere a lot, along with many other geological terms, I recommend the Red Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson.

    December 9, 2006

  • The lithosphere is not to be confused with the crust. The crust is only part of the lithosphere. The lithosphere extends to approximately 100 km in depth and it is the fracturing of the lithosphere into plates that is described by plate tectonics. The lithosphere therefore includes the MOHO - the boundary between the crust and the mantle.

    December 9, 2006