Does it mean "in this field/area"?

One of the people said that Apple is developing optical sensors, which involves shining a light through the skin to measure indications of glucose. Accurately detecting glucose levels has been such a challenge that one of the top experts in the space, John L. Smith, described it as "the most difficult technical challenge I have encountered in my career." The space is littered with failures, as Smith points out, but that hasn't stopped companies from continuing to attempt to crack this elusive opportunity.

Apple isn't the only technology company eyeing opportunities in the space. Verily, Google's life sciences team, is currently working on a "smart" contact lens to measure blood sugar via the eye, and it partnered up with DexCom in 2015 to develop a glucose-sensing device no bigger than a bandage.

Source: Apple has a secret team working on the holy grail for treating diabetes (CNBC)


2 Answers 2


Yes, it means "field", i.e. a particular science, type of study, or industry; or, as @LawrenceC put it, a "community consisting of everyone who is interested in such things and collaborates on related work".

This particular sense is somewhat jargonistic to news speak, though it also occurs in academic work to denote a particular subdivision of a field.

Professor Anand has carried out important research in the early childhood development space.

There is one definition in the OED that I suspect might have given rise to this meaning:

space, n.1
II. Denoting area or extension.
* Specific or limited extent.
g. orig. U.S. A room or specific area within a building, esp. considered in terms of its function or architectural qualities.

Here's one example under that heading, notable for its connection to work:

1981   N.Y. Times (Nexis) 8 Feb. d33/1   You have a great space to work with. You have an eager staff to help you along.

Considering that "space" is one of those words that occupies a page of the dictionary to cover all the subtly different definitions (that no native speaker will ever consult!), I'm not at all surprised to see it take on a new figurative meaning. To me, the "room... esp. considered in terms of its function" seems to me a good candidate for producing such a metaphor.


The very first thing that comes to mind that could be related is the relatively new word hackerspace. Here's Google's definition for reference:

A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace or hackspace) is a community-operated, often "Not For Profit" (501(c)(3) in the United States), workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, machining, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate.

I'm unsure of when this word came into vogue or what may have preceded it, but the use of space in your example is similar. They are talking about a community consisting of everyone who is interested in such things and collaborates on related work.


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