1630s, atmosphaera (modern form from 1670s), "gaseous envelop surrounding the earth," from Modern Latin atmosphaera, from Greek atmos "vapor, steam" (see atmo-) + sphaira "sphere" (see sphere). In old science, "vaporous air," which was considered a part of the earth and a contamination of the lower part of the air (n.1).
Þe ouer partye of þe eyr is pure and clene, clere, esy & softe, ffor mevynge of stormys, of wynde and of wedir may nat reche þerto; and so it perteyneþ to heuenlych kynde. And þe neþir partye is nyʒe to þe spere of watir and of erþe, and is troubly, greet and þicke, corpulent and ful of moyst erþy vapoures, as longiþ to erþy partyes. Þe eyr strecchiþ hym kyndely al aboute fro þe ouer partye of þe erþe and of watir anon to þe spere of fire. [Bartholomew Glanville, "De proprietatibus rerum," c. 1240, translated by John of Trevisa c. 1398 ]
First used in English in connection with the Moon, which, as it turns out, practically has none.
'Tis Observed, in the Solary Eclipses, that there is some times a great Trepidation about the Body of the Moon, from which we may likewise argue an Atmo-sphaera, since we cannot well conceive what so probable a cause there should be of such an appearance as this, Quod radii Solares a vaporibus Lunam ambientibus fuerint intercisi, that the Sun-beams were broken and refracted by the Vapours that encompassed the Moon. [Rev. John Wilkins, "Discovery of New World or Discourse tending to prove that it probable there may be another World in the Moon," 1638]
The figurative sense of "surrounding influence, mental or moral environment" is by c. 1800.
"region of the earth's atmosphere above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere," 1950, from meso- "middle" + second element in atmosphere.
1885, from geo- "earth," probably on model of atmosphere.
1777, "pertaining to or existing in the atmosphere," from atmosphere + -ic. In a sense of "creating a mood or mental environment" it is from 1908. Atmospherics "disturbances in wireless communication" is from 1905.
1590s, "manner, appearance" (as in an air of mystery); 1650s, "assumed manner, affected appearance" (especially in phrase put on airs, 1781), from French air "look, appearance, mien, bearing, tone" (Old French aire "reality, essence, nature, descent, extraction" (12c.); compare debonair), which is perhaps from Latin ager "place, field, productive land" (from PIE root *agro- "field") on the notion of "place of origin."
But some French sources connect this Old French word with the source of air (n.1), and it also is possible these senses in English developed from or were influenced by air (n.1); compare sense development of atmosphere and Latin spiritus "breath, breeze," also "high spirit, pride," and the extended senses of anima.
"thick, close, stuffy atmosphere," 1888. "orig dial. & School slang" [OED].
word-forming element meaning "air, atmosphere; gases," in 20c. use with reference to aircraft or aviation, from Greek aēr (genitive aeros) "air, lower atmosphere" (see air (n.1)).
1891, "atmosphere of mystery and veneration," from French mystique "a mystic; mystical," from Latin mysticus (see mystic (adj.)).
1960s in drug-use sense, from ozone (n.), which is found high in the atmosphere; the related verb to zone is from 1980s.