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heat lightning

lightning too distant for thunder to be heard, observed as diffuse flashes near the horizon on summer evenings.
Origin of heat lightning
An Americanism dating back to 1825-35 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for heat lightning
Historical Examples
  • Humor shines in his face like heat lightning in a summer cloud.

    The Kentucky Ranger Edward T. Curnick
  • "It looks like heat lightning back at home," said an American.

  • There was an instantaneous glare like heat lightning, and the monster crumpled in on itself, twitched briefly and vanished.

    When the Mountain Shook Robert Abernathy
  • heat lightning glowed in the west with the luminousness so marked in that region.

    The Main Chance Meredith Nicholson
  • In the west the thunder was rumbling and great sheets of heat lightning promised a storm in a short time.

    The Air Ship Boys H.L. Sayler
  • Quick as the heat lightning that flutters on the waters of Winipigoos in the hot summers the cruel club came down.

  • Daoud saw the flickering glow of heat lightning through the thick leaded-glass window behind the podesta.

  • The White Pony shied at a flash of heat lightning, and stumbled bunglingly on a rolling stone.

    The Sick-a-Bed Lady

    Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
  • The strange clouds, which had been as white as curds in the afternoon, were now dark blue, lighted by flashes of heat lightning.

    Witch Winnie Elizabeth W. Champney
  • heat lightning is seen in the skies at night after an unusually hot day.

    The Woodcraft Girls at Camp

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy
British Dictionary definitions for heat lightning

heat lightning

flashes of light seen near the horizon, esp on hot evenings: reflections of more distant lightning
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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heat lightning in Science
heat lightning  
Intermittent flashes of reddish or orange light near the horizon, usually seen on a hot summer evening and unaccompanied by thunder. Heat lightning is thought to be the reflection of distant lightning on clouds. Its color is believed to be due to the refraction of light in the atmosphere. See also sheet lightning, See more at lightning.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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