[loo-muh-nes-uh ns]


the emission of light not caused by incandescence and occurring at a temperature below that of incandescent bodies.
the light produced by such an emission.

Origin of luminescence

1885–90; < Latin lūmin- (see lumen) + -escence
Related formslu·mi·nes·cent, adjectivenon·lu·mi·nes·cence, nounnon·lu·mi·nes·cent, adjectiveun·lu·mi·nes·cent, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for luminescent

bright, effulgent, luminous, radiant, fluorescent, phosphorescent

Examples from the Web for luminescent

Contemporary Examples of luminescent

Historical Examples of luminescent

  • About his head there began to float a pale, luminescent sphere.

    Sense from Thought Divide

    Mark Irvin Clifton

  • None of the luminescent animals which I have studied are at all affected by cyanides.

  • He looked around him, trying to probe the luminescent gloom that the goggles he wore brought to his eyes.

    Anything You Can Do ...

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Either the mycelium alone or the fruiting body alone, or both, may be luminescent.

  • Such bodies we speak of as luminescent, and in this category belong all luminous animals.

British Dictionary definitions for luminescent



  1. the emission of light at low temperatures by any process other than incandescence, such as phosphorescence or chemiluminescence
  2. the light emitted by such a process
Derived Formsluminescent, adjective

Word Origin for luminescence

C19: from Latin lūmen light
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 luminescent

1889, from luminescence + -ent.



1884, from Latin lumen (genitive luminis) "light" (see luminous) + -escence.

Fluorescence and Phosphorescence -- Prof. E. Wiedmann has made a new study of these phenomena. He proposes the general name luminescence for evolutions of light which do not depend on the temperature of the substance concerned. ["Photographic News," April 20, 1888]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

luminescent in Medicine




The emission of light that does not derive energy from the temperature of the emitting body, as in fluorescence and bioluminescence.
The light so emitted.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

luminescent in Science



The emission of light as a result of the excitation of atoms by energy other than heat. Bioluminescence, fluorescence, and phosphorescence are examples of luminescence that can be produced by biological or chemical processes.
The light produced in this way.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.