[ kan-dl ]
See synonyms for: candlecandledcandling on

  1. a long, usually slender piece of tallow or wax with an embedded wick that is burned to give light.

  2. something resembling a candle in appearance or use.

  1. Optics.

    • (formerly) candela.

    • Also called in·ter·na·tion·al can·dle [in-ter-nash-uh-nl kan-dl, -nash-nl] /ˈɪn tərˌnæʃ ə nl ˈkæn dl, -ˌnæʃ nl/ . a unit of luminous intensity, defined as a fraction of the luminous intensity of a group of 45 carbon-filament lamps: used from 1909 to 1948 as the international standard.

    • a unit of luminous intensity, equal to the luminous intensity of a wax candle of standard specifications: used prior to 1909 as the international standard. Abbreviation: c., c

verb (used with object),can·dled, can·dling.
  1. to examine (eggs) for freshness, fertility, etc., by holding them up to a bright light.

  2. to hold (a bottle of wine) in front of a lighted candle while decanting so as to detect sediment and prevent its being poured off with the wine.

Idioms about candle

  1. burn the / one's candle at both ends. burn1 (def. 56).

  2. hold a candle to, to compare favorably with (usually used in the negative): She's smart, but she can't hold a candle to her sister.

  1. worth the candle, worth the trouble or effort involved (usually used in the negative): Trying to win them over to your viewpoint is not worth the candle.

Origin of candle

First recorded before 900; Middle English candel, candle, condel, Old English candel, condel, from Latin candēla, equivalent to cand(ēre) “to shine, gleam white” + -ēla noun suffix; see candid

Other words from candle

  • can·dler, noun
  • un·can·dled, adjective

Words Nearby candle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use candle in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for candle


/ (ˈkændəl) /

  1. a cylindrical piece of wax, tallow, or other fatty substance surrounding a wick, which is burned to produce light

  2. physics

  1. burn the candle at both ends to exhaust oneself, esp by being up late and getting up early to work

  2. not hold a candle to informal to be inferior or contemptible in comparison with: your dog doesn't hold a candle to mine

  3. not worth the candle informal not worth the price or trouble entailed (esp in the phrase the game's not worth the candle)

  1. (tr) to examine (eggs) for freshness or the likelihood of being hatched by viewing them against a bright light

Origin of candle

Old English candel, from Latin candēla, from candēre to be white, glitter

Derived forms of candle

  • candler, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with candle


see burn the candle at both ends; game is not worth the candle; hold a candle to.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.