lam·​bent | \ ˈlam-bənt How to pronounce lambent (audio) \

Definition of lambent

1 : playing lightly on or over a surface : flickering
2 : softly bright or radiant
3 : marked by lightness or brilliance especially of expression

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from lambent

lambently adverb

Lambent and Flames

Fire is frequently associated with lapping or licking imagery: flames are often described as "tongues" that "lick." Lambent, which first appeared in English in the 17th century, is a part of this tradition, coming from lambens, the present participle of the Latin verb lambere, meaning "to lick." In its earliest uses, lambent meant "playing lightly over a surface," "gliding over," or "flickering." These uses were usually applied to flames or light, and by way of that association, the term eventually came to describe things with a radiant or brilliant glow, as Alexander Pope used it in his 1717 poem "Eloisa to Abelard": "Those smiling eyes, attemp'ring ev'ry ray, Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day."

Examples of lambent in a Sentence

lambent sunlight glinting off the waves a writer known for her lambent wit
Recent Examples on the Web Yet this depth of character and vision flows through the lambent light of the French countryside and the social whirl of energized encounters; the movie’s leap between the trivial and the transcendent is wondrous. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Watch the Films of Éric Rohmer on His Centenary," 20 Mar. 2020

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

First Known Use of lambent

1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lambent

Latin lambent-, lambens, present participle of lambere to lick — more at lap

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lambent

Time Traveler for lambent

Time Traveler

The first known use of lambent was in 1647

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about lambent

Statistics for lambent

Cite this Entry

“Lambent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lambent


How to pronounce lambent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lambent

formal + literary
: shining or glowing softly
: having a light, appealing quality

More from Merriam-Webster on lambent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lambent

Comments on lambent

What made you want to look up lambent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!