bio·​lu·​mi·​nes·​cence ˌbī-ō-ˌlü-mə-ˈne-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce bioluminescence (audio)
: the emission of light from living organisms (such as fireflies, dinoflagellates, and bacteria) as the result of internal, typically oxidative chemical reactions
also : the light so produced
bioluminescent adjective

Examples of bioluminescence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unlike the more uniform bioluminescence seen in specimens taken onto ships, the light was shining from the sea cucumber’s head to tail and then back up similar to a wave. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 15 Nov. 2023 His images from the shower caught shooting stars, the Milky Way, glowing bioluminescence and a ship on the horizon that looks like the sunset. Mark Graves | , oregonlive, 13 Aug. 2023 Even though bioluminescence occurs naturally, glowing plants could affect the behavior of insects and animals that aren’t accustomed to it. WIRED, 19 Sep. 2023 Julia Beckett, 60, left, of Huntington Beach, and Christine Tuttle, 65, right, of Westminster capture the glowing blue of the bioluminescence in the crashing waves in the middle of the night on Sept. 11, 2023, in Newport Beach, Calif. Carter Evans, CBS News, 16 Sep. 2023 What's the best way to see bioluminescence at the beach? Anthony Robledo, USA TODAY, 3 Sep. 2023 And in the darkest dark I’d ever been immersed in, the bioluminescence bounced against the viewport like sparks from an oxyacetylene torch, some frenzied constellation thrashing, undoing itself, some mosh-pit hyperspace. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 2 June 2023 That video went viral, inspiring the Los Angeles community of bioluminescence hunters to grow during the pandemic. Dakota Kim, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2022 Despite their diminutive 8-inch size, these deep-sea marvels boast an incredible feature — bioluminescence. Anna Nordseth, Discover Magazine, 1 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1916, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bioluminescence was in 1916

Dictionary Entries Near bioluminescence

Cite this Entry

“Bioluminescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


bio·​lu·​mi·​nes·​cence ˌbī-ō-ˌlü-mə-ˈnes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce bioluminescence (audio)
: the emission of light from living organisms
also : the light so produced
bioluminescent adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on bioluminescence

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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