noun, often attributive
lan·​tern | \ˈlan-tərn \

Definition of lantern 

1 : a usually portable protective case for a light with transparent openings — compare chinese lantern

2a obsolete : lighthouse

b : the chamber in a lighthouse containing the light

c : a structure with glazed or open sides above an opening in a roof for light or ventilation

d : a small tower or cupola or one stage of a cupola

Examples of lantern in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Instagram users in the United States and Canada can now find a jack-o-lantern, a ghost, and a skull alongside their five most frequently used emojis, making it that much easier to bombard your friends’ posts with festive comments. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Instagram Unveils New Halloween Features," 27 Oct. 2018 The jack-o-lanterns are barely on the stoop, Thanksgiving is over a month away, and Christmas isn't even on the radar, but that's not going to stop Black Friday. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "Black Friday has arrived at Monoprice with 20 percent off nearly everything, even sale items," 22 Oct. 2018 Think about incorporating a snowman, a lantern, or Jolly Saint Nick. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Christmas Tree Shops Just Released Its Holiday Decor and We Want Everything," 13 Oct. 2018 Bright outdoor lights can outshine fireflies’ tiny lanterns, interfering with mating behavior, so lend fireflies a hand by flipping off the switch at night. Rebecca Straus, Good Housekeeping, "5 Ways to Attract Fireflies to Your Yard," 19 July 2018 The public spaces have decidedly Arabian touches like inlaid tables, lanterns, and keyhole doorways. Laura Ratliff, Condé Nast Traveler, "35 Best Hotels in Dubai," 4 Mar. 2018 The ceilings were decorated with glitter streamers, lanterns—and more butterflies. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bella Hadid Celebrated Her 22nd Birthday with a Star-Studded Bash," 10 Oct. 2018 The Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade A popular Atlanta tradition, the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade brings tens of thousands of lantern-holding pedestrians together to march down the Atlanta BeltLine ’s Eastside Trail. Allison Weiss Entrekin, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do in Atlanta in September 2018," 5 Sep. 2018 At a shrine in Kyoto, stone lanterns broke and collapsed to the ground. Fox News, "Japan earthquake kills 3 including 9-year-old girl; scores injured," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lantern.' 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 lantern

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lantern

Middle English lanterne, from Anglo-French, from Latin lanterna, from Greek lamptēr, from lampein to shine — more at lamp

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Statistics for lantern

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lantern

The first known use of lantern was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for lantern



English Language Learners Definition of lantern

: a light that has usually a glass covering and that can be carried by a handle


lan·​tern | \ˈlan-tərn \

Kids Definition of lantern

: a usually portable lamp with a protective covering

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More from Merriam-Webster on lantern

Spanish Central: Translation of lantern

Nglish: Translation of lantern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lantern for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about lantern

Comments on lantern

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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