in·​can·​des·​cent | \ ˌin-kən-ˈde-sᵊnt How to pronounce incandescent (audio) also -(ˌ)kan- \

Definition of incandescent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : white, glowing, or luminous with intense heat
b : strikingly bright, radiant, or clear
c : marked by brilliance especially of expression incandescent wit
d : characterized by glowing zeal : ardent incandescent affection
2a : of, relating to, or being light produced by incandescence
b : producing light by incandescence



Definition of incandescent (Entry 2 of 2)

Other Words from incandescent


incandescently adverb

Did you know?

Incandescent first lit up the English language toward the end of the 18th century, at a time when scientific experiments involving heat and light were being conducted on an increasingly frequent basis. An object that glowed at a high temperature (such as a piece of coal) was incandescent. By the mid-1800s, the incandescent lamp—aka the lightbulb—had been invented; it contains a filament which gives off light when heated by an electric current. Incandescent is the modern offspring of a much older parent, the Latin verb candēre, meaning "to glow." Centuries earlier, the word for another source of light, candle, was also derived from candēre.

Examples of incandescent in a Sentence

Adjective sitting in darkness, except for the incandescent coals of our campfire a speaker incandescent with righteous anger over the treatment of the refugees
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Grant Park Festival Orchestra sounded strikingly, compellingly decadent in the opening Allegro con spirito; similarly, piano passages in the Presto finale glowed with incandescent intensity. Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 16 June 2022 Take the incandescent light bulb, which has been actively phased out by American, British and several European governments in recent years due to concerns around energy efficiency. Megan C. Hills, CNN, 10 June 2022 This week, the Department of Energy announced new rules to phase incandescent light bulbs out of production and sale in the United States before a ban takes effect in 2023. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022 Bloom’s matter-of-fact confidence plays off Whitehead’s childlike angst in a pair of quietly incandescent performances. Los Angeles Times, 27 May 2021 There are 10 incandescent light fixtures placed 9 inches apart on a 9-foot-long white wire, with an 18-inch lead before the first bulb. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 24 May 2022 The performer’s songs consistently glowed with romantic possibility, thanks primarily to the warm, lovely undertones of their incandescent voice, and their ability to find nuance in even the most destructive dalliances. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 5 May 2022 Looking at her photos and videos, one description which comes to mind is incandescent. Globe Staff,, 18 May 2022 Much of the country is already lit by LED lights, which the Department of Energy estimates last as much as 50 times as long as incandescent bulbs and use a fraction of the electricity. New York Times, 26 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Most grow lights are LEDs, which are more efficient and don't throw as much heat as fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 26 July 2022 Like so many things, the fight over incandescent bulbs became partisan. Michael Smolenscolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 This set has a weather-resistant wire that’s 24 feet long, with 25 incandescent glass Edison bulbs spaced 1 foot apart. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 24 May 2022 But environmental groups praise the move, saying incandescent bulbs waste energy and harm the environment. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022 For a small, two-person campsite, look for a lantern with at least 500 lumens, while 1000 lumens (about as bright as a 60-watt incandescent bulb) is enough to illuminate the entire site. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 13 May 2022 This is what the unsuspecting incandescent light bulb has wrought. Michael Smolenscolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 The average incandescent bulb produces 15 lumens per watt, reports Gizmodo’s Kevin Hurler. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022 On Tuesday, the Biden administration increased federal efficiency standards for lightbulbs, effectively consigning the century-old incandescent lightbulb—the type with a luminating filament—to U.S. history. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 27 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of incandescent


1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1900, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incandescent


probably from French, from Latin incandescent-, incandescens, present participle of incandescere to become hot, from in- + candescere to become hot, from candēre to glow — more at candid

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incandescent lamp

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Last Updated

11 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incandescent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for incandescent


in·​can·​des·​cent | \ ˌin-kən-ˈde-sᵊnt How to pronounce incandescent (audio) \

Kids Definition of incandescent

: white or glowing with great heat

More from Merriam-Webster on incandescent

Nglish: Translation of incandescent for Spanish Speakers


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