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[lan-tern] /ˈlæn tərn/
a transparent or translucent, usually portable, case for enclosing a light and protecting it from the wind, rain, etc.
the chamber at the top of a lighthouse, surrounding the light.
  1. a tall, more or less open construction admitting light to an enclosed area below.
  2. any light, decorative structure of relatively small size crowning a roof, dome, etc.
  3. an open-sided structure on a roof to let out smoke or to assist ventilation.
a light, usually over the entrance to an elevator on each floor of a multistory building, that signals the approach of the elevator.
Origin of lantern
1250-1300; Middle English lanterne < Latin lanterna (< Etruscan) < Greek lamptḗr lamp, light Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lantern
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There, by the light of a lantern, he and Jud made Andrew as comfortable as possible.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • He got up from his chair, lighted a lantern, and went outside.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • He lighted the lantern, and Hal Dozier went down the steep steps, humming.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Imagine scouts scouring the woods with a lantern—with a lantern, Renny!

  • The telegram was found, and the captain read it, while Tim held the lantern.

  • The lantern, set on a tombstone beside them, blinked in a snowy gust.

  • At camp he lighted his lantern and spread out his find on the table.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • After a moment he arose, took his lantern into his tent, and there spread his find on his cot.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • It was the hired man with whom Margaret had left the letter, and he held a lantern in his hand.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
British Dictionary definitions for lantern


a light with a transparent or translucent protective case
a structure on top of a dome or roof having openings or windows to admit light or air
the upper part of a lighthouse that houses the light
(photog) short for magic lantern
Word Origin
C13: from Latin lanterna, from Greek lamptēr lamp, from lampein to shine
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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Word Origin and History for lantern

mid-13c., from Old French lanterne "lamp, lantern, light" (12c.), from Latin lanterna "lantern, lamp, torch," altered (by influence of Latin lucerna "lamp") from Greek lampter "torch," from lampein "to shine" (see lamp). Variant lanthorn (16c.-19c.) was folk etymology based on the common use of horn as a translucent cover. Lantern-jaws "hollow, long cheeks" is from a resemblance noted since at least mid-14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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