noun \ˈlīt-niŋ\

: the flashes of light that are produced in the sky during a storm

Full Definition of LIGHTNING

:  the flashing of light produced by a discharge of atmospheric electricity; also :  the discharge itself
:  a sudden stroke of fortune


Middle English, from gerund of lightenen to lighten
First Known Use: 13th century

Other Climate/Meteorology Terms

monsoon, occlusion, ozone, rime, squall, zephyr



: moving or done very quickly

Full Definition of LIGHTNING

:  having or moving with or as if with the speed and suddenness of lightning <a lightning assault>

Examples of LIGHTNING

  1. thoughts moving at lightning speed
  2. <he made a lightning dash for the goal>

First Known Use of LIGHTNING




Definition of LIGHTNING

intransitive verb
:  to discharge a flash of lightning

First Known Use of LIGHTNING


Other Climate/Meteorology Terms

monsoon, occlusion, ozone, rime, squall, zephyr


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Visible discharge of electricity when part of the atmosphere acquires enough electrical charge to overcome the resistance of the air. During a thunderstorm, lightning flashes can occur within clouds, between clouds, between clouds and air, or from clouds to the ground. Lightning is usually associated with cumulonimbus clouds (thunderclouds) but also occurs in nimbostratus clouds, in snowstorms and dust storms, and sometimes in the dust and gases emitted by a volcano. A typical lightning flash involves a potential difference between cloud and ground of several hundred million volts. Temperatures in the lightning channel are on the order of 30,000 K (50,000 °F). A cloud-to-ground flash comprises at least two strokes: a pale leader stroke that strikes the ground and a highly luminous return stroke. The leader stroke reaches the ground in about 20 milliseconds; the return stroke reaches the cloud in about 70 microseconds. The thunder associated with lightning is caused by rapid heating of air along the length of the lightning channel. The heated air expands at supersonic speeds. The shock wave decays within a metre or two into a sound wave, which, modified by the intervening air and topography, produces a series of rumbles and claps. See also thunderstorm.


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