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

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Other Words from scintillate

scintillator \ˈsin-tə-ˌlā-tər \ noun

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

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 That’s one of the certainties of Friday night’s scintillating matchup between three-time Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "Clayton Kershaw vs. Max Scherzer: Showdown in L.A. highlights a dying breed of ace," 20 Apr. 2018 In one minute the frisker scintillated 1,286 times: 4.26 micros per hour. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "As Innocuous as Plant No. 1," 10 Apr. 2018 With two key shutout innings in the Brewers’ scintillating 5-4 comeback victory Tuesday night over St. Louis, Barnes has been nearly perfect in his first three relief outings. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Notes: Reliever Jacob Barnes put rough spring behind him and has been a force for Brewers," 4 Apr. 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for scintillate

The first known use of scintillate was circa 1623

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More Definitions for scintillate


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

Medical Definition of scintillate 

: to produce scintillation

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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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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