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

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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 The objects around me are lambent with significance. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, "TikTok and the Vibes Revival," 26 Apr. 2021 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

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Time Traveler for lambent

Time Traveler

The first known use of lambent was in 1647

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Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lambent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of lambent

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

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