What is the correct name for the space between heaven and earth?

I thought of ether but it seems to have a prevailing chemistry meaning, whereas its second connotation is described by OxfordL as literary:

LITERARY: the clear sky; the upper regions of air beyond the clouds.

Plus, this doesn't seem to include the space below the clouds.

Then I thought of atmosphere, but its main meaning seems to be

the mixture of gases around the earth (Cambridge).

When I googled it, I found the definition of horizon as

the apparent boundary between the Earth and sky.

However, I am looking for the word that denotes the space in between, not the boundary.

I am making up this sentence:

She lost sight of the swans that vanished into the _______ .


The boy measured the ________ and wished that one day he could traverse it with a spaceship.

The examples I have given are rather orientative, not restrictive. If the word or phrase found doesn't go well in the senteces but means exactly this space between sky and earth, I'd be happy.

The word or phrase can be figurative, but I could also use a "technical term" for it.

Edit: My question is vague. Maybe it helps if I say just ignore the examples. Sky is too general a word, I would need something more specific, more synonymous of troposphere, without being necessarily a scientific word. If there are other scientific words, I do not reject them either.

  • 1
    ... vanished into the haze? Jun 11 at 11:49
  • Yes, that's also a good one.
    – fev
    Jun 11 at 11:54
  • 5
    I think the word you want for your sentences is, in fact, sky. Why is sky not appropriate?
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 11 at 12:06
  • 4
    If sky isn't the term, we need some description of why. "Sky" isn't a scientific term and it refers to anything above your head or above the ground that isn't a ceiling or roof. Since clouds often come down to earth (where they're known as mist or fog), as do other things in the sky, there is no real practical difference between sky and the air around us.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 11 at 12:08
  • 2
    @fev If you can't say how it's to be used, and you can't say why sky is inappropriate (which does follow from the first restriction), then it's going to be difficult to come up with le mot juste.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 11 at 15:05


the lowest region of the atmosphere, extending from the earth's surface to a height of about 6–10 km (the lower boundary of the stratosphere)


but that might be a bit "sciencey" sounding for your suggested sentences.

and interpretative suggestion might be something like:

Blue yonder

or similar

  • 2
    @sawsine: Don't you think birds vanishing into the troposphere is a bit too artsy? blue yonder is a good one! +1 for that :) Jun 11 at 11:38

The word "azure" is a term that is suitable, although it is literary.

(SOED) azure 5 The unclouded vault of the sky.

(SOED) vault 1 Archit. A continuous arch, or a series of arches radiating from a central point or line, used to form a roof over a space in the interior of a building; an arched roof or ceiling. ME. b An arching structure or covering resembling a vault; esp. (more fully heavenly vault, vault of heaven*) that formed by the sky (chiefly poet.) LME.

Since clouds are well known to have volume, as well as being found over a range of altitudes that can be quite high and quite low, the term "azure" does refer to a space that occupies a fairly important part of what lies between the elusive boundary of blue expanse above our heads and the earth.

(ref., 1995) Shortly after the third jet had disappeared into the azure, a mortar shell landed on the far side of the airport, well away from any aircraft and apparently causing no damage.

  • She lost sight of the swans that vanished into the azure.

Personally I think this is a concept that isn't recognized in English. For me, the sky is anywhere I don't see ground or something attached to the ground. I would consider a bird flying a few inches above my head to be "in the sky" (assuming we weren't in some kind of structure). The idea of empty space between the sky and the ground is nonsensical to me. No matter which word or phrase you use, I don't think you will be understood.


You could try distance.

A stretch of space without designation of limit; an expanse.

a land of few hills and great distances.

[American Heritage Dictionary]

And therefore you could write your sentence thus:

She lost sight of the swans that vanished into the distance.

  • Would it be too much to ask the downvoter his reason for downvoting? Jun 11 at 11:58
  • 1
    It’s not my downvote, but distance is too broad. Someone walking down a long road can “vanish into the distance” without taking flight.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 11 at 18:01
  • 1
    It could be because "into the distance" does not connote three dimensional space but remoteness : (OALD) in/into the distance far away but still able to be seen or heard//That make your sentence illogical. I would make that criticism myself.
    – LPH
    Jun 11 at 18:02
  • 1
    In "a land of few hills and great distances" it is meant in the AHD "one dimensional space".
    – LPH
    Jun 11 at 18:04


  1. the part of the earth's atmosphere which extends from the top of the troposphere to about 30 miles (50 kilometers) above the surface and in which temperature increases gradually to about 32° F (0° C) and clouds rarely form
  2. a very high or the highest region on or as if on a graded scale

Stratosphere better conveys the idea of being "above the sky" and "almost space", e.g. sometimes the term "near space" is used in aeronautics, and includes this region. Plus it has more metaphorical connotations than the troposphere.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.