scin·​til·​late | \ ˈsin-tə-ˌlāt \
scintillated; scintillating

Definition of scintillate

intransitive verb

1 : to emit sparks : spark
2 : to emit quick flashes as if throwing off sparks : sparkle stars scintillate in the sky

transitive verb

: to throw off as a spark or as sparkling flashes scintillate witticisms

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from scintillate

scintillator \ ˈsin-​tə-​ˌlā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms for scintillate


spark, sparkle

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

The Sparkling History of Scintillate

In addition to its literal use, scintillate can mean "to sparkle" in a figurative sense - that is, to be lively, or to perform brilliantly. It is also frequently seen in its adjectival form, scintillating, with the meaning "very clever, amusing, and interesting," as in a scintillating discussion. The history of scintillate began with a spark - or with the Latin word for "spark," at least. That word, scintilla, is also the source of other words in English. There is scintilla itself (used as a noun meaning "a little bit"), scintillant (an adjective describing something that scintillates), and scintillation (which, among other things, means "a brilliant outburst").

Examples of scintillate in a Sentence

we watched contentedly as our campfire scintillated in the darkness the diamond ring scintillated in the sunlight

Recent Examples on the Web

His eighth of the tournament and second of the game was a scintillating Brazil at their best, killing off any hopes of the World Cup staying in Europe, while a despondent Kahn was left to reflect on what might have been after the final whistle., "World Cup Countdown: 4 Weeks to Go - Golden Ball in Safe Hands After Oliver Kahn's Historic Triumph," 27 May 2018 Raucous laughter throughout the screening was followed by scintillating chatter afterward, as guests mingled over Champagne and fare inspired by the book. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Henry Golding Hosts a Secret Screening of Crazy Rich Asians," 24 July 2018 The actress, who turned heads this year as the new face of Lady Dior, also scintillated on the silver screen in Rob Marshall's musical film Nine. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "Marion Cotillard Fêted by Dior," 12 Jan. 2010 By now, Harden’s scintillating campaign—which included 11 40-point games, four 50-point games, and a career-high 60 points in a win over Orlando—is old news. Ben Golliver,, "From Sixth Man to MVP: James Harden Reflects on Steady Climb to NBA Mountain Top," 26 June 2018 The Belgium midfielder has been in scintillating form this season, with the fan favourite particularly impressive in Tottenham's 2-2 draw away to Juventus in the Champions League., "Spurs Prepared to Cash in on Interest in Key Midfielder as Mauricio Pochettino Looks to Future," 17 Apr. 2018 The results are less than scintillating: There's one All-Star in Kemba Walker. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "2 starters from 7 lottery picks since 2011: Why Hornets' poor draft history must change," 7 June 2018 The 125-recipe cookbook, which hits stores tomorrow, features brunch highlights, sensory-scintillating hors d’oeuvres, and unforgettable main courses, like the signature curry fried chicken drizzled with spiced honey. Sunset, "Bring Home the Magic of One of SF’s Best Restaurants," 22 Jan. 2018 Smooth hospitality, scintillating agave cocktails and the suitability of the wine list all burnish the experience. Houston Chronicle, "Alison Cook's Top 10 Houston restaurants," 10 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scintillate.' 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 scintillate

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for scintillate

Latin scintillatus, past participle of scintillare to sparkle, from scintilla spark

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scintillate

Share scintillate

Listen to Our Podcast about scintillate

Statistics for scintillate

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scintillate

The first known use of scintillate was circa 1623

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scintillate


intransitive verb
scin·​til·​late | \ ˈsint-ᵊl-ˌāt \
scintillated; scintillating

Medical Definition of scintillate

: to produce scintillation

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on scintillate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scintillate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scintillate

Nglish: Translation of scintillate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on scintillate

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


someone who never drinks alcohol

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!