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Street lantern
Portable lantern

Alternative formsEdit


Middle English lanterne (13th century), via Old French lanterne from Latin lanterna (lantern), itself a corruption of Ancient Greek λαμπτήρ (lamptḗr, torch) (see lamp, λάμπω) by influence of Latin lucerna (lamp). The spelling lanthorn was current during the 16th to 19th centuries and originates with a folk etymology associating the word with the use of horn as translucent cover. For the verb, compare French lanterner to hang at the lamp-post.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈlæn.tən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈlæn.tɚn/
  • (file)


lantern (plural lanterns)

  1. A case of translucent or transparent material made to protect a flame, or light, used to illuminate its surroundings.
  2. (theater) Especially, a metal casing with lens used to illuminate a stage (e.g. spotlight, floodlight).
  3. (architecture) An open structure of light material set upon a roof, to give light and air to the interior.
  4. (architecture) A cage or open chamber of rich architecture, open below into the building or tower which it crowns.
  5. (architecture) A smaller and secondary cupola crowning a larger one, for ornament, or to admit light.
    the lantern of the cupola of the Capitol at Washington, or that of the Florence cathedral
  6. (engineering) A lantern pinion or trundle wheel.
  7. (steam engines) A kind of cage inserted in a stuffing box and surrounding a piston rod, to separate the packing into two parts and form a chamber between for the reception of steam, etc.; a lantern brass.
  8. (rail transport) A light formerly used as a signal by a railway guard or conductor at night.
  9. (metalworking) A perforated barrel to form a core upon.
  10. (zoology) Aristotle's lantern




lantern (third-person singular simple present lanterns, present participle lanterning, simple past and past participle lanterned)

  1. (transitive) To furnish with a lantern.
    to lantern a lighthouse

See alsoEdit


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of lanterne