ball lightning


Definition of ball lightning

: a rare form of lightning consisting of luminous balls that may move along solid objects or float in the air

Examples of ball lightning in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

One thought is that ball lightning’s victims may continue to exist in a quantum state—like ghosts, in fact, trying to communicate. Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: A Novelist in Awe of Physics," 16 Aug. 2018 Instead, Liu focuses less on exploring his characters’ personal issues and more on their obsession with ball lightning. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "From the author of The Three-Body Problem," 15 Sep. 2018 Is ball lightning a macroscopic fundamental particle? Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: A Novelist in Awe of Physics," 16 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ball lightning.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ball lightning

1845, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

8 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for ball lightning

The first known use of ball lightning was in 1845

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More from Merriam-Webster on ball lightning

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ball lightning Encyclopedia article about ball lightning

Comments on ball lightning

What made you want to look up ball lightning? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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