• synonyms


[fos-fuh-res-uh ns]
See more synonyms for phosphorescence on Thesaurus.com
  1. 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.
  2. a luminous appearance resulting from this.
  3. any luminous radiation emitted from a substance after the removal of the exciting agent.
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Origin of phosphorescence

First recorded in 1790–1800; phosphoresc(ent) + -ence
Related formssem·i·phos·pho·res·cence, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

flash, glare, sun, radiation, window, lamp, ray, daylight, candle, bulb, glow, star, lantern, sunshine, glint, glitter, sheen, glimmer, luster, reflection

Examples from the Web for phosphorescence

Historical Examples

  • As on the previous night, the sea was aglow with phosphorescence.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman

    Albert Walter Tolman

  • But it was not there alone that the phosphorescence of the sea was visible.

  • The water was alive with phosphorescence that sparkled like gems around the blades.

  • There is no light in these depths: they make it with their own phosphorescence.

    Astronomy for Amateurs

    Camille Flammarion

  • He could see large patches of phosphorescence under the surface.

    Creatures of the Abyss

    Murray Leinster

British Dictionary definitions for phosphorescence


  1. physics
    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
  2. the light emitted in phosphorescence
  3. the emission of light during a chemical reaction, such as bioluminescence, in which insufficient heat is evolved to cause fluorescenceCompare fluorescence
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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 phosphorescence


1796, from verb phosphoresce (1794; see phosphorescent) + -ence.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

phosphorescence in Medicine


  1. Persistent emission of light following exposure to and removal of incident radiation.
  2. Emission of light without burning or by very slow burning without appreciable heat, as from the slow oxidation of phosphorous.
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Related formsphos′pho•rescent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

phosphorescence in Science


  1. 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.
  2. The light produced in this way.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.