light·​ning | \ ˈlīt-niŋ How to pronounce lightning (audio) \

Definition of lightning

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the flashing of light produced by a discharge of atmospheric electricity also : the discharge itself
2 : a sudden stroke of fortune candidates … hoping for real lightning to strikeTime



Definition of lightning (Entry 2 of 3)

: having or moving with or as if with the speed and suddenness of lightning a lightning assault


lightninged; lightning

Definition of lightning (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to discharge a flash of lightning

Examples of lightning in a Sentence

Adjective thoughts moving at lightning speed he made a lightning dash for the goal
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The United States, Korea and China led the way with the earliest deployments of these 5G networks; however, the rollout of these lightning-fast, low-latency networks has moved at a much slower pace in the United States than many anticipated. Michael Johnston, Forbes, 22 June 2022 Don't expect a lightning-fast flight, however -- the maximum speed will be 80 mph (129 kph). Julia Buckley, CNN, 16 June 2022 The Torras also features robust battery life, lightning-fast USB-C charging, bladeless design, and three fan speeds. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 13 June 2022 Last year, DeFi exploded into a $100 billion industry, attracting both venture capital firms and regular investors with the prospect of lightning-fast gains. New York Times, 13 June 2022 The greens are lightning-fast, and a flock of turkeys grudgingly yields the fairways. Globe Staff,, 10 June 2022 Perhaps symptoms are preceding test positivity, less because the virus is peaking late, and more because illness is arriving early, thanks to the lightning-fast reflexes of people’s primed immune systems. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 10 June 2022 Anyone who ever watched the late-night host knows his expert interview skills, lightning-fast comebacks and playful style. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 23 May 2022 Fans can catch up on the lightning-fast (and super cute) extraterrestrial and his bushy-two-tailed pal Tails when Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is available to stream starting tomorrow on Paramount+. Danielle Directo-meston, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Less than two hours later and 150 miles south, 52-year-old Antonia Mendoza Chavez and her two dogs were struck and killed by lightning in Pico Rivera, authorities said. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2022 Interpretation of this figure differed though, with some experts pointing out this means that Covid is a leading cause of death in children; pediatrician Cody Meissner, on the other hand, noted a similar number are struck by lightning in a year. Matthew Herper And Helen Branswell, STAT, 18 June 2022 The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can make an impact on both ends of the court. Kristen Davis, cleveland, 5 Apr. 2021 The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare players in the game who can make an impact on both ends of the court. Doug Feinberg,, 4 Apr. 2021 The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can make an impact on both ends of the court. Doug Feinberg,, 4 Apr. 2021 The 5-foot-6-inch guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can impact contests on both ends of the court., 3 Apr. 2021 The airplane, a P-38 Lightning, was on a reconnaissance mission over Thailand and Burma, now Myanmar, when it was most likely struck by lightning and fell from the sky. New York Times, 24 May 2022 She gets struck by lightning multiple times, her eyes fall out of her sockets, inspiring googly glasses. Andy Hoglund,, 15 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of lightning


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1576, in the meaning defined above


1903, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lightning

Noun, Adjective, and Verb

Middle English, from gerund of lightenen to lighten

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Time Traveler for lightning

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near lightning



lightning arrester

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Statistics for lightning

Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lightning.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for lightning


light·​ning | \ ˈlīt-niŋ How to pronounce lightning (audio) \

Kids Definition of lightning

: the flashing of light caused by the passing of electricity from one cloud to another or between a cloud and the earth

More from Merriam-Webster on lightning

Nglish: Translation of lightning for Spanish Speakers

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


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