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 Hardcore golfers won’t let the elements stop them (well, except for lightning—that’s a recipe for disaster). Editors Of Men's Health, Men's Health, 6 May 2022 Some brief heavier rain and lightning are probably the main risks. Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2022 Areas of northeastern New Mexico and West Texas could see severe thunderstorms on Sunday, leading to elevated fire risk because of potential lightning in parts of the Texas Panhandle. New York Times, 30 Apr. 2022 But even rare events are more worrisome the more chances they are given—when lightning strikes thousands of times, there are greater chances for sparks to turn to wildfires. Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, 30 Apr. 2022 Besides amazing discounts, Amazon will also offer a series of lightning deals throughout the day, so be sure to keep an eye out for those as well. Bianca Rodriguez, Good Housekeeping, 29 Apr. 2022 Straining to keep his former band together while catching creative lightning over the course of a nearly eight-hour documentary. Robert Ham, SPIN, 29 Apr. 2022 Adel's resignation sparked a dash to qualify for the election to replace her and a lightning round of interviews for an interim boss. Kaely Monahan, The Arizona Republic, 27 Apr. 2022 If the conditions are thunder and lightning, heavy winds, or anything that falls under a weather advisory, there’s not enough gear to make that safe for you. Shauna Harrison, SELF, 26 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Two fans attending a New York Yankees spring training game in Tampa were struck by lightning Saturday, according to the Tampa Police Department. Cristóbal Reyes,, 2 Apr. 2022 Miley Cyrus was originally set as a headliner for the Asuncionico music festival in Paraguay on Wednesday, but dangerous weather conditions resulted in her plane being struck by lightning and forced to make an emergency landing. Jordan Moreau, Variety, 23 Mar. 2022 The National Weather Service says the system also will produce strong winds in the mountains and possibly lightning from the foothills to the sea. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Mar. 2022 Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu was the best player in the game that year, lightning fast and with superb ball-handling skills, and South Carolina likely would have run into the Ducks at some point. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, 14 Mar. 2022 Such negativity is also the reason that, over the past twelve months, the industry has shunned Hammer at near-lightning speed. Nick Schager, Rolling Stone, 14 Feb. 2022 There was something about Reitman’s film and approach that was just lightning in a bottle — or a poltergeist in a ghost trap. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Feb. 2022 As technology continues to advance, experts in the field are optimistic for lightning detection of an even greater scale in the future. Caitlin Kaiser And Judson Jones, CNN, 31 Jan. 2022 The global lifestyle icon revealed she had been struck by lightning three times before during a recent visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which aired on Thursday. Dave Quinn,, 20 Jan. 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

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lightning.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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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