bio·​lu·​mi·​nes·​cence | \ ˌbī-ō-ˌlü-mə-ˈne-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce bioluminescence (audio) \

Definition of bioluminescence

: 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

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Other Words from bioluminescence

bioluminescent \ ˌbī-​ō-​ˌlü-​mə-​ˈne-​sᵊnt How to pronounce bioluminescent (audio) \ adjective

Examples of bioluminescence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In the darkest depths of the sea, the few animals that live there sometimes generate their own light through the remarkable process of bioluminescence. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Some Fish Can See in Color at 5,000 Feet Below Sea Level," 10 May 2019 Book a trip to see the island’s lights—bioluminescence, and expansive constellations—all around. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "Why India’s Andaman Islands Could Be the New Maldives," 4 Jan. 2019 Yet despite this diversity, the bioluminescence of the sea is almost always emitted in one shade: blue. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Why Bioluminescence Evolved to Be Red Light, and Blue," 26 June 2018 The infamous anglerfish appears to use bioluminescence for both. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Why Bioluminescence Evolved to Be Red Light, and Blue," 26 June 2018 Scientists will be at the beach to explain the bioluminescence from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday (May 9). Gary Robbins,, "Go to Scripps Pier tonight to hear scientists explain why the ocean is glowing," 9 May 2018 The chemical signals come from bioluminescence, meaning that the robot is designed to sense the light from the bacteria. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "How E. Coli Could Power a Predatory Robot," 17 July 2015 Biofluorescence is not to be confused with bioluminescence, in which animals produce their own light via a chemical reaction. National Geographic, "See Amazing Ocean Creatures That ‘Glow’," 11 June 2018 The United States and the Soviet Union both investigated the phenomenon known as bioluminescence to gauge if it could be used to detect submarines underwater. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. and Soviet Union Once Investigated Bioluminescence as a Way to Track Submarines," 23 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bioluminescence.' 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 bioluminescence

1916, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bioluminescence

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Statistics for bioluminescence

Last Updated

25 May 2019

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Time Traveler for bioluminescence

The first known use of bioluminescence was in 1916

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More Definitions for bioluminescence


bio·​lu·​mi·​nes·​cence | \ ˌbī-ō-ˌlü-mə-ˈnes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce bioluminescence (audio) \

Medical Definition of bioluminescence

: the emission of light from living organisms also : the light so produced

Other Words from bioluminescence

bioluminescent \ -​ᵊnt How to pronounce bioluminescent (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on bioluminescence

Nglish: Translation of bioluminescence for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about bioluminescence

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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