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Etymology edit

From light(e)n +‎ -ing.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

lightning (usually uncountable, plural lightnings)

  1. A flash of light produced by short-duration, high-voltage discharge of electricity within a cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the earth.
    Although we did not see the lightning, we did hear the thunder.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Job 38:35:
      Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?
    • 1901, E. L. Morris, The Child's Eden, page 16:
      It was the thought of hot July and August days, when the clouds piled up like woolly mountains, and lightnings streaked the sky.
    • 2021 October 13, Genshin Impact, v2.2, miHoYo, iOS, Android, Windows, PS4, level/area: The Sun-Wheel and Mt. Kanna:
      "Ruu": The adults in the village all said that children like me could calm the lightning and turn the storms into timely rain.
  2. A discharge of this kind.
    The lightning was hot enough to melt the sand.
    That tree was hit by lightning.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act III, scene ii:
      Auster and Aquilon with winged Steeds
      All ſweating, tilt about the watery heauens,
      With ſhiuering ſpeares enforcing thunderclaps,
      And from their ſhields ſtrike flames of lightening
    • 1881, Daniel Pierce Thompson, The Green Mountain Boys, page 281:
      The rain at length ceased; and the lightnings, as they played along the black parapet of clouds, that lay piled in the east, shone with less dazzling fierceness, []
  3. (figuratively) Anything that moves very fast.
  4. Obsolete form of lightening.[1]

Usage notes edit

Quotations edit

  • 2008, Kathy Clark, Stand By Your Man, page 280:
    Manny drove a few miles per hour under the speed limit, entranced by the awesome display of lightning streaking out of the clouds toward earth.

Coordinate terms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Adjective edit

lightning (not comparable)

  1. Extremely fast or sudden; moving (as if) at the speed of lightning.
    • 2018, Nader Uskowi, Temperature Rising, page 69:
      The insurgents then began their lightning advance along the Euphrates in the Sunni heartland toward Baghdad.

Translations edit

Verb edit

lightning (third-person singular simple present lightnings, present participle lightninging, simple past and past participle lightninged)

  1. (impersonal, childish or nonstandard, intransitive) To produce lightning.
    • 1916, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Understood Betsy:
      Or if it thundered and lightninged, Aunt Frances always dropped everything she might be doing and held Elizabeth Ann tightly in her arms until it was all over.
    • 1968, Dan Greenburg, Chewsday: a sex novel:
      The next day, though it is not only raining but thundering and lightninging as well, antiquing is seen by three-fourths of those present as a lesser evil than free play.
    • 1987, Tricia Springstubb, Eunice Gottlieb and the unwhitewashed truth about life:
      "Hey!" yelled Reggie, pulling her back. "Get in here! It's lightninging. I don't want a charcoal-broiled friend!"
    • 1988, Carlo Collodi, Roberto Innocenti, The adventures of Pinocchio:
      I don't know, Father, but believe me, it has been a horrible night — one that I'll never forget. It thundered and lightninged, and I was very hungry.

Usage notes edit

  • The standard, but rare, verb for "produce lightning" is lighten, used only in the impersonal form "it lightens", or as "it’s lightening".

Translations edit

References edit