[ fos-fuh-res-uh ns ]
/ ˌfɒs fəˈrɛs əns /


the property of being luminous at temperatures below incandescence, as from slow oxidation in the case of phosphorus or after exposure to light or other radiation.
a luminous appearance resulting from this.
any luminous radiation emitted from a substance after the removal of the exciting agent.

Origin of phosphorescence

First recorded in 1790–1800; phosphoresc(ent) + -ence

OTHER WORDS FROM phosphorescence

sem·i·phos·pho·res·cence, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for phosphorescence

British Dictionary definitions for phosphorescence

/ (ˌfɒsfəˈrɛsəns) /


  1. a fluorescence that persists after the bombarding radiation producing it has stopped
  2. a fluorescence for which the average lifetime of the excited atoms is greater than 10 –8 seconds
the light emitted in phosphorescence
the emission of light during a chemical reaction, such as bioluminescence, in which insufficient heat is evolved to cause fluorescenceCompare fluorescence
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

Medicine definitions for phosphorescence

[ fŏs′fə-rĕsəns ]


Persistent emission of light following exposure to and removal of incident radiation.
Emission of light without burning or by very slow burning without appreciable heat, as from the slow oxidation of phosphorous.

Other words from phosphorescence

phos′pho•rescent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for phosphorescence

[ fŏs′fə-rĕsəns ]

The emission of light by a substance as a result of having absorbed energy from a form of electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light or x-rays. Unlike fluorescence, phosphorescence continues for a short while after the source of radiation is removed. Glow-in-the-dark products are phosphorescent. Compare fluorescence.
The light produced in this way.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.