[ bahy-oh-loo-muh-nes-uh ns ]
/ ˌbaɪ oʊˌlu məˈnɛs əns /


the production of light by living organisms.

Origin of bioluminescence

First recorded in 1915–20; bio- + luminescence

Related forms

bi·o·lu·mi·nes·cent, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bioluminescence

British Dictionary definitions for bioluminescence


/ (ˌbaɪəʊˌluːmɪˈnɛsəns) /


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 Forms

bioluminescent, 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

Science definitions for bioluminescence


[ bī′ō-lōō′mə-nĕsəns ]

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.