[bahy-oh-loo-muh-nes-uh ns]


the production of light by living organisms.

Origin of bioluminescence

First recorded in 1915–20; bio- + luminescence
Related formsbi·o·lu·mi·nes·cent, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bioluminescence

Contemporary Examples of bioluminescence

Historical Examples of bioluminescence

  • It is not the purpose of this book to deal with every phase of bioluminescence.

  • A fairly complete list of literature covering the whole field of Bioluminescence is given by Mangold, 1910.

British Dictionary definitions for bioluminescence



the production of light by living organisms as a result of the oxidation of a light-producing substance (luciferin) by the enzyme luciferase: occurs in many marine organisms, insects such as the firefly, etc
Derived Formsbioluminescent, adjective
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

Word Origin and History for bioluminescence

also bio-luminescence, 1909; see bio- + luminescence.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bioluminescence in Science



The emission of light by living organisms, such as fireflies, glowworms, and certain fish, jellyfish, plankton, fungi, and bacteria. It occurs when a pigment (usually luciferin) is oxidized without giving off heat. Although it is believed that bioluminescence is involved in animal communication, its function in many organisms has yet to be understood. Bioluminescence is a form of chemiluminescence. Compare chemiluminescence.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.