aurora borealis


aurora bo·​re·​al·​is -ˌbȯr-ē-ˈa-ləs How to pronounce aurora borealis (audio)
: an aurora that occurs in earth's northern hemisphere

called also northern lights

Examples of aurora borealis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Almost 15 years later, seeing the aurora borealis is a bit like a drug, says photographer Ronn Murray. Daniel Wolfe, Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2023 Canada’s aurora borealis was barely visible to the naked eye, but an extended exposure just might pick up some of the slack. Sunset Magazine, 4 Nov. 2022 Phillips estimates that the aurora borealis will be visible as far south as New York and Idaho as well. Eric MacK, Forbes, 16 Aug. 2022 Throughout history, humans have gazed in awe at the astronomical wonder that is the aurora borealis. Jonathan Shipley, Discover Magazine, 2 May 2022 And that sparked what NASA describes as a vibrant display of the aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 1 Dec. 2022 There’s no point in trying to come up with a melody that’s got aurora borealis or antidisestablishmentarianism in the chorus. Vulture, 24 May 2022 Check out this stunning, time-lapse video of the aurora borealis over northern Norway. Allison Futterman, Discover Magazine, 22 Dec. 2021 Few night sights thrill national-park travelers like spotting the aurora borealis; scroll the hundreds of comments on the NPS’ latest awe-inspiring aurora Instagram post from Denali for proof. Stephanie Vermillion, Outside Online, 12 Dec. 2022

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

Word History


New Latin, literally, northern dawn

First Known Use

1707, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aurora borealis was in 1707

Dictionary Entries Near aurora borealis

Cite this Entry

“Aurora borealis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

aurora borealis

aurora bo·​re·​al·​is -ˌbōr-ē-ˈal-əs How to pronounce aurora borealis (audio)
: broad bands of light that have a magnetic and electrical source and that appear in the sky at night especially in the arctic region

called also northern lights

More from Merriam-Webster on aurora borealis

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