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)

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Other Words from incandescent


incandescently adverb

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Incandescent came into 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 - a.k.a. 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 After Reubel's men filled in the hole, the audience could peer through the viewing tube and so, by the aid of incandescent light somehow, watch Miss Lemars snooze peacefully. Celia Storey, Arkansas Online, 14 June 2021 Rachel’s writing is incandescent with anger and hurt about this painful fact. Antonia Hitchens, WSJ, 4 May 2021 The painter’s short, incandescent career left a vapor trail across the sky of American Art that glowed brightly and faded quickly., 21 May 2021 Namely, the incandescent sound of Mitchell singing harmonies — word for word — into the back of my head. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 May 2021 Halley's remnants – pieces of dust and ice -- will appear as incandescent streaks, catching light in the atmosphere. Julia Musto, Fox News, 5 May 2021 Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDs. Patrick Connolly,, 21 Apr. 2021 This has a max of 600W for the incandescent bulb and 150W max for LED bulbs. Chris Hachey, BGR, 26 Apr. 2021 Though no symphonies by Beethoven figure here, incandescent accounts of Brahms’s First and Second Symphonies provide ample gravity. David Mermelstein, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Vivien Raynor of The New York Times likened these Nuyorican Portraits, as they were known, to the portraits of ÉdouardManet; The Times’s Holland Cotter described them as incandescent. New York Times, 4 June 2021 Vivien Raynor of The New York Times likened these Nuyorican Portraits, as they were known, to the portraits of Édouard Manet; the Times’ Holland Cotter described them as incandescent., 4 June 2021 Light glanced off her bark, incandescent, the sun dropping. Brilliance. Suzanne Simard, Wired, 7 May 2021 This will work with incandescent, halogen, and LED bulbs. Chris Hachey, BGR, 26 Apr. 2021 This is for use with up to 150 Watts of dimmable LEDs and up to 600 Watts for incandescent or halogen bulbs. Chris Hachey, BGR, 26 Apr. 2021 Super bright and energy-efficiency: 2W led Shaped filament Led bulbs equals to 15W incandescent bulb, with 200LM high brightness. Maren Estrada, BGR, 14 Apr. 2021 Gaughan suggests switching out any traditional incandescent bulbs with warm-colored LEDs, like orange or yellow hues. Felicity Warner, USA TODAY, 9 Apr. 2021 The old incandescent bulbs burned away most of their energy as heat. Chieko Tsuneoka, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2021

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.

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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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The first known use of incandescent was in 1794

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Last Updated

17 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incandescent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for incandescent



English Language Learners Definition of incandescent

: white or glowing because of great heat
: producing bright light when heated
: very impressive, successful, or intelligent


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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