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

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

Did You Know?


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


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

Life is short, and what’s left of the fire in my incandescent anarcho-punk heart has been smothered enough. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "How to Cook Anything with a Torch," 8 Feb. 2019 Conway’s formula: 16 Lumens equals 1 incandescent watt. Kathryn O’shea-evans, WSJ, "Goodbye, Showy Chandeliers. Hello, Low-Key Lighting That Transforms Rooms," 25 Jan. 2019 Instead of doing your bedtime reading by traditional incandescent bulbs and fixtures, make the switch to more eco-conscious LED bulbs and lights. Lauren Hubbard, ELLE Decor, "A Beginner's Guide to Making Your Home More Sustainable," 1 Apr. 2019 Squares of incandescent and neon light shine through the windows onto the street, two Lotto machines glimmer in the corner, memorabilia from all of Philly’s teams cover the walls. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "What Happened When I Rode a Boosted Board From New York to Philadelphia," 27 Dec. 2018 As part of its plan, Nycha is switching to LED lighting, which lasts longer than incandescent bulbs and consumes less energy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "$1,973 LEDs and the Green New Deal," 15 Feb. 2019 This glamorous take on a traditional source of indirect light can accommodate LED or incandescent bulbs. Kathryn O’shea-evans, WSJ, "Goodbye, Showy Chandeliers. Hello, Low-Key Lighting That Transforms Rooms," 25 Jan. 2019 With skin as incandescent as the Duchess's, though, all focus was bound to fall on her ever-smiling face—but a bit of blush never hurt anyone. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Meghan Markle Plays Up Her Pregnancy Glow With This Easy Makeup Trick," 30 Oct. 2018 There was the rivalry between stars Chevy Chase and Murray, the incandescent rage of sitcom staple Ted Knight fueled by the cast’s merry pranksters of improv and cocaine. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "From Joyce Carol Oates to 'Caddyshack' and the Cubs, Printers Row Lit Fest hit a thoughtful groove," 9 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some flashlights will only accept a small low-wattage incandescent bulb. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The Smart Person's Guide To Avoiding Electrical Shock," 29 Apr. 2016 Before electricity and incandescents, towns would light their streets using gasoline or natural gas. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Meet the twist-and-turning streetlamp of the future," 14 Sep. 2018 Their light is similar to that of traditional incandescents, but Halogens use only about 28% less energy, so your electric bill won't drop dramatically. The Good Housekeeping Institute, Good Housekeeping, "A Quick Guide to Energy-Efficient Bulbs," 30 Dec. 2013 Debbie, incandescent with rage, confronted Ruth in the warehouse where GLOW was rehearsing, prompting the show’s wily director, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), to imagine how sparks might fly between the two women in the ring. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Love Story of Debbie and Ruth," 10 July 2018 Here Gilpin shone at his most incandescent, piling sheer fantasy built on pseudo-science and hope ever higher. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 In the early 2000s, the replacement of old-school incandescent lights with LEDs largely rendered the Clark Griswold-style of massive though static displays obsolete. Bill Bannks, ajc, "Tony Paradowski, 60: Decatur’s maestro of Christmas-light magic," 22 June 2018 Volcanoes have a lot of ways to kill people—caustic ash, superheated hurricane-like pyroclastic flows, incandescent mudslides called lahars...and, of course, lava. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "The Implacable Power of Volcanic Lava," 10 May 2018 On one side of the room, a floor-to-ceiling window overlooks the incandescent buzz of the Apparatus Room below. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Chef’s Table in downtown Detroit is our 2018 Restaurant of the Year," 16 Feb. 2018

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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26 Apr 2019

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The first known use of incandescent was in 1794

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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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with incandescent

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Spanish Central: Translation of incandescent

Nglish: Translation of incandescent for Spanish Speakers

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a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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