in·​can·​des·​cent | \ ˌin-kən-ˈde-sᵊnt How to pronounce incandescent (audio) also -(ˌ)kan- \

Definition of incandescent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : white, glowing, or luminous with intense heat
b : strikingly bright, radiant, or clear
c : marked by brilliance especially of expression incandescent wit
d : characterized by glowing zeal : ardent incandescent affection
2a : of, relating to, or being light produced by incandescence
b : producing light by incandescence



Definition of incandescent (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other Words from incandescent


incandescently adverb

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Incandescent came into the English language toward the end of the 18th century, at a time when scientific experiments involving heat and light were being conducted on an increasingly frequent basis. An object that glowed at a high temperature (such as a piece of coal) was "incandescent." By the mid-1800s, the incandescent lamp - a.k.a. the "lightbulb" - had been invented; it contains a filament which gives off light when heated by an electric current. "Incandescent" is the modern offspring of a much older parent, the Latin verb candēre, meaning "to glow." Centuries earlier, the word for another source of light, "candle," was also derived from "candēre."

Examples of incandescent in a Sentence

Adjective sitting in darkness, except for the incandescent coals of our campfire a speaker incandescent with righteous anger over the treatment of the refugees
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The first produces its own light, like an incandescent bulb, a candle flame, or the screen on your television. Rhett Allain, Wired, 12 Sep. 2021 Pandemics recur in her stories, as do natural landscapes ravaged by climate change, as do women who are quietly incandescent with rage. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 7 Sep. 2021 Of an asteroid impact so large that the night sky glowed incandescent red with molten droplets of rock. Robert M. Thorson, WSJ, 13 Aug. 2021 The Upsetters’ spring-loaded groove was the ideal setting for Marley’s mystical ghost story; his elliptical storytelling and Tosh and Livingstone’s incandescent harmonies glide effortlessly as Family Man levels the ground. Michaelangelo Matos, Rolling Stone, 30 Aug. 2021 Imagine old-fashioned incandescent night lights spaced every 3 feet over the entire world, left on forever. Scott Denning, Quartz, 6 Aug. 2021 In tribute to the Texas-size clouds over Houston, architect Steven Holl jacketed the exterior with rounded, incandescent ribs, giving the three-story building the soft, puffy feel of a cumulous white night-light. Michael Agresta, Travel + Leisure, 4 July 2021 These profoundly personal reminiscences infuse his songbook with an incandescent power, an effect enhanced by Natasha Katz’s emotionally enriching lighting and Brian Ronan’s polished sound design. Washington Post, 27 June 2021 Watching her Mary slowly warm up to Saoirse Ronan’s Charlotte, first with chilly reserve and later with incandescent lust, is to watch an inverse of Winslet’s Marianne Dashwood. Manuel Betancourt, Vulture, 27 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Republicans were dismayed by Mr. Biden’s flaccid answer to China’s cyberattacks and incandescent about Nord Stream 2. John Bolton, WSJ, 27 July 2021 Although not as scorching as early June, the next 2 weeks bring incandescent, antiperspirant levels of heat, with a run of low to mid 90s. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, 19 July 2021 Vivien Raynor of The New York Times likened these Nuyorican Portraits, as they were known, to the portraits of ÉdouardManet; The Times’s Holland Cotter described them as incandescent. New York Times, 4 June 2021 Vivien Raynor of The New York Times likened these Nuyorican Portraits, as they were known, to the portraits of Édouard Manet; the Times’ Holland Cotter described them as incandescent., 4 June 2021 Light glanced off her bark, incandescent, the sun dropping. Brilliance. Suzanne Simard, Wired, 7 May 2021 This will work with incandescent, halogen, and LED bulbs. Chris Hachey, BGR, 26 Apr. 2021 This is for use with up to 150 Watts of dimmable LEDs and up to 600 Watts for incandescent or halogen bulbs. Chris Hachey, BGR, 26 Apr. 2021 Super bright and energy-efficiency: 2W led Shaped filament Led bulbs equals to 15W incandescent bulb, with 200LM high brightness. Maren Estrada, BGR, 14 Apr. 2021

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


1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1900, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incandescent


probably from French, from Latin incandescent-, incandescens, present participle of incandescere to become hot, from in- + candescere to become hot, from candēre to glow — more at candid

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The first known use of incandescent was in 1794

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incandescent lamp

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incandescent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for incandescent



English Language Learners Definition of incandescent

: white or glowing because of great heat
: producing bright light when heated
: very impressive, successful, or intelligent


in·​can·​des·​cent | \ ˌin-kən-ˈde-sᵊnt How to pronounce incandescent (audio) \

Kids Definition of incandescent

: white or glowing with great heat

More from Merriam-Webster on incandescent

Nglish: Translation of incandescent for Spanish Speakers


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