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sheet lightning

lightning appearing merely as a general illumination over a broad area, usually because the path of the flash is obscured by clouds.
Origin of sheet lightning
First recorded in 1820-30 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sheet lightning
Historical Examples
  • There was a bon mot, which blazed with all the soft brilliancy of sheet lightning.

    The Young Duke Benjamin Disraeli
  • Then there flashed a look like sheet lightning across the old man's face.

    Pilgrim Sorrow Carmen Sylva
  • His eyes flashed on her like sheet lightning, as he clinched them in his hand.

    Dainty's Cruel Rivals Mrs. Alex McVeigh Miller
  • Like sheet lightning they are beautiful but never strike anything.

    The Vitalized School

    Francis B. Pearson
  • Ye flame putteth me in mind of sheet lightning on a small—how very small—scale.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • Away to the south the sheet lightning was like the flashing of an enormous lantern hidden under the horizon.

    Chance Joseph Conrad
  • It had become very dark; suddenly a blaze of sheet lightning illumed the room.

    Lavengro George Borrow
  • He turned again to the judge with a smile that played like sheet lightning over his haggard face and inquired humbly.

    The Broken Sword Dennison Worthington
  • sheet lightning spreads over a great surface and is of various colours.

    The Woodcraft Girls at Camp

    Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • See—see how the sheet lightning shows the long lake-shore all tumbling with foamy breakers.

British Dictionary definitions for sheet lightning

sheet lightning

lightning that appears as a broad sheet, caused by the reflection 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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sheet lightning in Science
sheet lightning
A broad, sheetlike illumination of a portion of a thundercloud, caused by an unseen, often internal or reflected lightning flash. See also heat lightning, See more at lightning.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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