1 : to emit sparks : spark
2 : to emit quick flashes as if throwing off sparks : sparkle
Did You Know?
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").
We watched contentedly as our campfire scintillated in the darkness.
"Nightlife in the city is all about glitz and glitter. Bright lights to illuminate, scintillate, and titillate." -- From an article by Virginia Hayes in Santa Barbara Independent, July 1, 2010 - July 8, 2010
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