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

LEDs use much less energy than incandescent bulbs, and will last for years. Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "Angie’s List: Outdoor lighting improves safety and aesthetics," 12 July 2019 Despite being just 1-2% of the strength of daylight, this ambient level of incandescent home lighting can have 50% of the melatonin-suppressing influence within the brain. Mayo Oshin, Quartzy, "Five scientifically proven ways to fall asleep faster," 19 June 2019 Edison invented the phonograph, bringing music into homes, and perfected the incandescent bulb, which lighted up houses far better than candles and smoky oil lamps. Jeff Guinn, WSJ, "The Invention of the Summer Road Trip," 29 June 2019 For indoor lights, the switch to new kinds of bulbs has often been about energy savings, as homeowners moved from conventional incandescent bulbs to cheaper, brighter alternatives such as compact fluorescents. Babak Tafreshi, National Geographic, "Our nights are getting brighter, and Earth is paying the price," 3 Apr. 2019 The human brain’s power consumption resembles that of a 20-watt incandescent lightbulb. Quanta Magazine, "A Brain Built From Atomic Switches Can Learn," 20 Sep. 2017 If that were so, the roads around the Rocking Chair Cottages would have been incandescent with light. Mary Grimm, The New Yorker, "Back Then," 17 June 2019 View this post on Instagram This month marks the return of TV phenomenon #BigLittleLies and with it @BritishVogue’s incandescent cover star, @ZoeIsabellaKravitz. Channing Hargrove,, "Zoë Kravitz Covers British Vogue Ahead Of Big Little Lies Season 2," 4 June 2019 Or, in secular terms, did this incandescent woman, unschooled and hyperactive, find a protective community and self-medicate her way to some sort of serenity? J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books, "Barbara Rubin, Shameless Angel of Avant-Garde Cinema," 21 May 2019

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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Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for incandescent

The first known use of incandescent was in 1794

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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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with incandescent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for incandescent

Spanish Central: Translation of incandescent

Nglish: Translation of incandescent for Spanish Speakers

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to complain fretfully

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