al·​be·​do al-ˈbē-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce albedo (audio)
plural albedos
: reflective power
specifically : the fraction of incident radiation (such as light) that is reflected by a surface or body (such as the moon or a cloud) compare reflectance
: the whitish, spongy inner part of the rind of a citrus fruit : the mesocarp of a hesperidium
The trouble with grapefruit is that however carefully you peel it, some of the white stuff always sticks to the fruit. The spongy white tissue, called albedo, is quite bitter, and it clings with the tenacity of lichen.Discover
compare flavedo

Examples of albedo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And because leafy trees are darker in color than most grasses, forest has a higher albedo than savannah, absorbing more light and heat and potentially contributing to global warming, according to some of Parr’s past research. Popular Science, 15 Feb. 2024 An albedo is simply the amount of light reflected by a planet back into space. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 10 July 2023 Fahey agreed, saying that while albedo does not create condensation trails, condensation trails – like other clouds – alter the Earth’s albedo by reflecting sunlight. Isabella Fertel, USA TODAY, 30 May 2023 The lack of snow cover decreases what’s known as the albedo effect, or the extent to which a surface is capable of reflecting sunlight, and therefore heat, back to space. Tatiana Schlossberg, Outside Online, 25 Mar. 2023 Second is albedo, or the reflectivity of the object's surface. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 28 June 2021 That’s in part due to a positive albedo effect – what happens when more snow melts with higher temperatures, exposing darker ground that absorbs still more heat. Ella Nilsen, CNN, 1 Aug. 2023 There is a connection between climate change and albedo: snow and ice, for instance, have a high albedo, reflecting up to 90 percent of the sunlight that hits them back to outer space. Maddie Bender, Scientific American, 18 June 2021 To boil the albedo effect down to its most basic form, brighter colors reflect heat away from the Earth, whereas darker ones absorb them and contribute to warming. Erik Millar, Forbes, 25 July 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'albedo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Late Latin albēdin-, albēdō "whiteness, white color," from Latin albus "light-colored, white" + -ēdin-, -ēdō, suffix of abstract nouns; (sense 1) after German Albedo in this sense, borrowed from Latin — more at alb, torpedo

First Known Use

1860, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of albedo was in 1860

Dictionary Entries Near albedo

Cite this Entry

“Albedo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


al·​be·​do al-ˈbēd-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce albedo (audio)
plural albedos
: the fraction of incident light or electromagnetic radiation that is reflected by a surface or body (as the moon or the skin)

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