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[lam-buh nt]
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  1. running or moving lightly over a surface: lambent tongues of flame.
  2. dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject; brilliantly playful: lambent wit.
  3. softly bright or radiant: a lambent light.
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Origin of lambent

1640–50; < Latin lambent- (stem of lambēns) lapping, present participle of lambere to lick, wash (said of water or fire); akin to lap3; see -ent
Related formslam·bent·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for lambent


  1. (esp of a flame) flickering softly over a surface
  2. glowing with soft radiance
  3. (of wit or humour) light or brilliant
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Derived Formslambency, nounlambently, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from the present participle of Latin lambere to lick
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 lambent


1640s, from figurative use of Latin lambentem (nominative lambens), present participle of lambere "to lick," from PIE root *lab-, indicative of smacking lips or licking (cf. Greek laptein "to sip, lick," Old English lapian "to lick, lap up, suck;" see lap (v.1)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper