scin·​til·​la | \ sin-ˈti-lə How to pronounce scintilla (audio) \

Definition of scintilla

: spark, trace not a scintilla of doubt

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Scintilla comes directly from Latin, where it carries the meaning of "spark" - that is, a bright flash such as you might see from a burning ember. In English, however, our use of "scintilla" is restricted to the figurative sense of "spark" - a hint or trace of something that barely suggests its presence. The Latin scintilla is related to the verb "scintillare," which means "to sparkle" and is responsible for our verb "scintillate" ("to sparkle or gleam," literally or figuratively). In an odd twist, "scintilla" underwent a transposition of the "c" and the "t" (a linguistic phenomenon known as metathesis) to create the Vulgar Latin form stincilla, which is believed to be an ancestor of our word stencil.

Examples of scintilla in a Sentence

there is not a scintilla of evidence for your outrageous claims
Recent Examples on the Web Not a scintilla of evidence in the pages of The Education of an Idealist equips the reader to argue otherwise. Brian Stewart, National Review, "The Education of a Cynic," 5 Oct. 2019 Imagine if Obama had done even a scintilla of the nonsense, high crimes and misdemeanors that Trump subjects us to on a daily basis. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: And you just thought your flight was late; We need more compromise from our elected officials; more letters (9/16/19)," 16 Sep. 2019 Regardless, the legal record is clear: The Second Circuit unanimously and flippantly upheld an extremist gun-control policy without a scintilla of empirical support. David B. Kopel, National Review, "Heller’s Precarious Situation," 12 Sep. 2019 If their ethics and corruption campaign had a scintilla of sincerity, liberal columnists would be writing in favor of Mr. Hugin the way conservatives supported Democrat Doug Jones against Roy Moore’s Senate campaign in Alabama last year. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Corruption and Double Standards," 9 Aug. 2018 And at the end of the day of hearings there was not one scintilla or -- TOLLIVER: And that is why people are asking for an independent -- THIESSEN: Hold on, hold on, hold on. Fox News, "Kavanaugh's high school friend reacts to fiery testimony," 28 Sep. 2018 As a matter of fact, not only are there no body bags which is really an awful analogy, Philippe, but secondly, there is not even a scintilla of evidence that collusion even happened. Fox News, "Rep. Darrell Issa talks explosive Peter Strzok hearing," 15 July 2018 There is not a scintilla of evidence that a single vote was changed or that a single voting machine was hacked. Fox News, "White House outlines strategy to combat meddling threat," 2 Aug. 2018 Both today and in 1944, the government could point to a scintilla of evidence for its policy. Aziz Huq, Vox, "The travel ban decision echoes of some of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history," 26 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of scintilla

1661, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scintilla


Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scintilla

Time Traveler for scintilla

Time Traveler

The first known use of scintilla was in 1661

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about scintilla

Statistics for scintilla

Cite this Entry

“Scintilla.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scintilla


How to pronounce scintilla (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of scintilla

: a very small amount of something


scin·​til·​la | \ sin-ˈti-lə How to pronounce scintilla (audio) \

Legal Definition of scintilla

: a small trace or barely perceptible amount of something (as evidence supporting a position)

More from Merriam-Webster on scintilla

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scintilla

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scintilla

Comments on scintilla

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


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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