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

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 Yet for more than a decade, kitchen workers endured intrusive mass strip searches without a scintilla of privacy,'' attorneys Tonna K. Farrar and Leonard Berman wrote on Cunningham's behalf. Maxine Bernstein,, "Group strip searches of Multnomah County inmates is subject of appeal before federal panel," 8 May 2018 A few minutes after Verratti was sent off, after all, Edinson Cavani scored, offering his team a scintilla of hope. Rory Smith, New York Times, "P.S.G. Tumbles Out of Champions League, Left Again to Face the Bill Without the Prize," 6 Mar. 2018 Mollie, is there a scintilla of doubt that most of members of the mainstream media side with Gary Cohn on not imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel, and think that president will be floundering without him? Fox News, "Some pundits rip Trump Korea move," 11 Mar. 2018 The President did not provide a scintilla of evidence to back up his claim. Z. Byron Wolf, CNN, "Trump basically called Mexicans rapists again," 6 Apr. 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

Listen to Our Podcast about scintilla

Statistics for scintilla

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scintilla

The first known use of scintilla was in 1661

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scintilla



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scintilla

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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 make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!