lu·​cu·​bra·​tion ˌlü-kyə-ˈbrā-shən How to pronounce lucubration (audio)
: laborious or intensive study
also : the product of such study
usually used in plural

Did you know?

Imagine someone studying through the night by the light of a dim candle or lamp. That image demonstrates perfectly the most literal sense of lucubration. Our English word derives from the Latin verb lucubrare, meaning "to work by lamplight." (That Latin root is related to lux, the Latin word for "light.") In its earliest known English uses, lucubration named both nocturnal study itself and a written product thereof. By the 1800s, however, the term had been broadened to refer to any intensive study (day or night), or a composition, especially a weighty one, generated as a result of such study. Nowadays, lucubration is most often used in its plural form and implies pompous or stuffy scholarly writing.

Word History


Latin lucubration-, lucubratio study by night, work produced at night, from lucubrare to work by lamplight; akin to Latin luc-, lux

First Known Use

1595, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lucubration was in 1595


Dictionary Entries Near lucubration

Cite this Entry

“Lucubration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on lucubration

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!