[lam-buh nt]


running or moving lightly over a surface: lambent tongues of flame.
dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject; brilliantly playful: lambent wit.
softly bright or radiant: a lambent light.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for lambent

bright, brilliant, flickering, glowing, lustrous, radiant, shinning

Examples from the Web for lambent

Contemporary Examples of lambent

  • A lambent spotlight shines on each individual in his portraits, reminding the world of their forgotten existence.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Ghosts of the Sahara

    Lizzie Crocker

    April 9, 2011

Historical Examples of lambent

British Dictionary definitions for lambent



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

Word Origin for lambent

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)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper