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[loo-muh-nes-uh ns] /ˌlu məˈnɛs əns/
the emission of light not caused by incandescence and occurring at a temperature below that of incandescent bodies.
the light produced by such an emission.
Origin of luminescence
1885-90; < Latin lūmin- (see lumen) + -escence
Related forms
luminescent, adjective
nonluminescence, noun
nonluminescent, adjective
unluminescent, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for luminescence
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The interesting problem of luminescence will be discussed elsewhere.

  • I came to full awareness under the luminescence of the infirmary's overhead.

    Attrition Jim Wannamaker
  • The luminescence that clothed Norhala brightened, deepening the darkness.

    The Metal Monster A. Merritt
  • It was as though a door had opened into some world of luminescence.

    The Metal Monster A. Merritt
  • Only if this proceeds rapidly enough does luminescence occur.

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
  • luminescence is more widespread in this phylum and more characteristic of the group as a whole than any other.

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
  • Apparently there is no rhyme or reason in the distribution of luminescence throughout the plant or animal kingdom.

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
  • The distinction between light and luminescence was first pointed out by Wiedemann .

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
  • They lose their power of luminescence during the day and only regain it at dusk or when kept in the dark for some time.

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
British Dictionary definitions for luminescence


  1. the emission of light at low temperatures by any process other than incandescence, such as phosphorescence or chemiluminescence
  2. the light emitted by such a process
Derived Forms
luminescent, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Latin lūmen light
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 luminescence

1884, from Latin lumen (genitive luminis) "light" (see luminous) + -escence.

Fluorescence and Phosphorescence -- Prof. E. Wiedmann has made a new study of these phenomena. He proposes the general name luminescence for evolutions of light which do not depend on the temperature of the substance concerned. ["Photographic News," April 20, 1888]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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luminescence in Medicine

luminescence lu·mi·nes·cence (lōō'mə-něs'əns)

  1. The emission of light that does not derive energy from the temperature of the emitting body, as in fluorescence and bioluminescence.

  2. The light so emitted.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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luminescence in Science
  1. The emission of light as a result of the excitation of atoms by energy other than heat. Bioluminescence, fluorescence, and phosphorescence are examples of luminescence that can be produced by biological or chemical processes.

  2. The light produced in this way.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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