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

Definition of scintillate

intransitive verb

1 : to emit sparks : spark
2 : 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
3 : 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

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Other Words from scintillate

scintillator \ ˈsin-​tə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce scintillator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for scintillate


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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 Instead, the awkwardly staged Engrossment Ceremony was non-scintillating TV. Armond White, National Review, "1917: War as Video Game and Ceremony," 17 Jan. 2020 However, City were able to overcome their slow start and grew in confidence throughout the game, eventually reaching their free-flowing and scintillating best., "Man City 5-1 Atalanta: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Sterling Hat-Trick Earns Citizens Routine Win," 22 Oct. 2019 Madrid have been in less than scintillating form in the last few weeks, having picked up just seven points of a possible 15 - allowing intercity rivals Atletico to comfortably take second place in the process., "Real Madrid vs Real Betis Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News," 17 May 2019 When readying for a pre-holiday occasion, the opportunity to experiment with beauty notes oft associated with the year’s annual sunset—saturated reds, scintillating metallics—is as alluring as a signature scent. Vogue, "How Adut Akech Preps for a Pre-Holiday Soirée," 25 Oct. 2019 After six months of scintillating baseball filled with home runs, strikeouts and bounce-back performances every time things got tough, there was no reason to think otherwise. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "Jace Frederick: This is how we playoff baseball," 7 Oct. 2019 Gómez has been in scintillating form since arriving at Celta Vigo two seasons ago from Denfensor Sporting, scoring 31 goals from 71 La Liga appearances., "Maxi Gómez to Reject West Ham Move as Uruguayan Striker Waits for Tottenham Offer," 28 June 2019 The United States rarely played scintillating football during the knockout stages of the tournament, labouring to 2-1 wins against Spain, France and England. J.t., The Economist, "America’s victorious World Cup team may be its best ever," 8 July 2019 As the distinguishing traits of champions go, readiness is not a particularly scintillating one. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "The Toronto Raptors Were Ready," 14 June 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of scintillate was circa 1623

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scintillate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for scintillate


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

Medical Definition of scintillate

: to produce scintillation

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More from Merriam-Webster on scintillate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scintillate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


dull or mediocre

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