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

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Examples of lightning in a Sentence


thoughts moving at lightning speed he made a lightning dash for the goal

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On the video board, fans were advised to move to the concourse areas because the storm included lightning. Bobby Nightengale,, "Cincinnati Reds enter rain delay for 2nd straight day in 3rd inning against Houston Astros," 17 June 2019 The days were long and hot, and lightning delays stretch some days to 10 hours or longer, Cogdell-Unrein said. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska trapshooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein is back on the range, with a baby," 14 June 2019 This can include photographing lightning or the Milky Way. Zak Podmore, National Geographic, "How to take an amazing photo of the Grand Canyon," 13 June 2019 In 2018, there were a total of 20 lightning strike fatalities, almost all of which occurred during the summer months of May to September. Eric Todisco,, "Motorcyclist Hit by Lightning in Florida Crashes and Dies," 10 June 2019 The teams were tied 6-6 Wednesday night after seven innings when lightning was spotted, and the game resumed at 11 a.m. Thursday. Chris Leach, The Courier-Journal, "Pleasure Ridge Park comes up short in state baseball tournament, losing to Tates Creek," 6 June 2019 Two years later, an Allied attempt to stage a lightning raid on the French port of Dieppe ended in disaster. Alan Cowell, New York Times, "D-Day in Photos: Heroes of a More Certain Time," 6 June 2019 Alexandra Shipp is fully mastering the lightning mitts of Storm. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "Dark Phoenix Is Trash, But the Hand Work Is Pretty OK?," 6 June 2019 But Waukegan was always the spot where it was hoped that gaming lightning would strike. Charles Selle, Lake County News-Sun, "Selle: Waukegan's bid to land a casino goes back to 1990 on the Waukegan River," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

When not taking measurements, crews on Hurricane Hunters see sights few others do: lightning traveling around the walls of a storm’s eye. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, "‘God was flying the plane’: Hurricane Hunters land in D.C. during public tour," 9 May 2017 That’s the most since 2007, when lightning killed 45 people. The Denver Post, "Colorado is the third deadliest state for fatal lightning strikes," 8 May 2017

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.

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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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Statistics for lightning

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lightning

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

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More Definitions for lightning



English Language Learners Definition of lightning

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the flashes of light that are produced in the sky during a storm



English Language Learners Definition of lightning (Entry 2 of 2)

: moving or done very quickly


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

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Comments on lightning

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