scin·​til·​late ˈsin-tə-ˌlāt How to pronounce scintillate (audio)
scintillated; scintillating

intransitive verb

: to emit sparks : spark
: to emit quick flashes as if throwing off sparks : sparkle
Imagine it's a cool summer night, the stars scintillate brilliantly in the sky overhead and the campfire blazes away.Thomas E. Young
: to dazzle or impress with liveliness or wit
The Jay Tarses sitcom, which scintillates with whacked-out wit, was dropped by NBC in 1988 because it was deemed too quirky.Lawrence Eisenberg
Mrs. Burnett's discussion of the Orestes leads the way to a new interpretation of Euripides' Apolline solution, a solution which has titillated, puzzled and infuriated generations of scholars. The arguments scintillate, but sometimes are pushed too far.Geoffrey Arnott

transitive verb

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

Did you know?

The Sparkling History of Scintillate

The initial spark of the verb scintillate was the Latin noun scintilla, meaning, well, “spark.” The ember of scintilla in turn developed into the verb scintillāre, “to sparkle.” Scintillate retains this meaning in expressing the action of gleaming, glittery things, as when jewelry or the surface of a lake in full sun scintillates. But the word can and often does mean “to sparkle” in a figurative sense—that is, to dazzle or impress with a brilliant performance—making the word apt for both celestial and cinematic scintillating stars.

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 The musician posted a short but scintillating clip on Twitter that features a snippet of the song’s slinky groove. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 10 May 2023 The garland dance was just one of the nice sequences highlighting ensembles and throngs: courtiers and nymphs; christening, birthday and nuptial invitees; the attendants of the Lilac Fairy (an able, if not scintillating Adelaide Clauss); and more. Celia Wren, Washington Post, 5 May 2023 Hill has positioned himself as a candidate for the Smythe Trophy (awarded to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Finals) following another scintillating performance in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. oregonlive, 11 June 2023 Indeed, in his third career start Sunday night, Miller offered more of the scintillating same — even if the Dodgers couldn’t capitalize upon it in a frustrating 4-1 loss at Chavez Ravine. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2023 At this point in the first round, however, a 6-4, 244-pound pocket passer with 4.43-second speed in the 40-yard dash and scintillating skills as a deep thrower might be too attractive for Carroll to ignore. Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA TODAY, 27 Apr. 2023 From the inland hills of Lake Garda, the winery produces this scintillating rosé from a blend of corvina, molinara, corvinone and rondinella. Dave McIntyre, Washington Post, 25 May 2023 After a career creating picture books for children, Keats—born Jacob Ezra Katz—had gone back in memory to the scrappy milieu of his early years and recorded all sorts of scintillating details. Meghan Cox Gurdon,, 12 May 2023 His shooting splits are scintillating with 70 shot attempts in three games: 66% on two-pointers, 41.2% from three, and 85.7% at the foul line. Shane Young, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scintillate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of scintillate was circa 1623


Dictionary Entries Near scintillate

Cite this Entry

“Scintillate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


scin·​til·​late ˈsint-ᵊl-ˌāt How to pronounce scintillate (audio)
scintillated; scintillating
: to give off sparks
: to flash or gleam as if throwing off sparks
eyes scintillating with anger

Medical Definition


intransitive verb
scin·​til·​late ˈsint-ᵊl-ˌāt How to pronounce scintillate (audio)
scintillated; scintillating
: to produce scintillation

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