[ fos-fuh-res-uhns ]
See synonyms for phosphorescence on
  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.

  1. 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

Words Nearby phosphorescence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use phosphorescence in a sentence

  • The color of the phosphorescence differs in the sexes, and its intensity varies with the age and temperament.

    Urania | Camille Flammarion
  • The water gleamed with phosphorescence, and the yacht Spray left a wake of gleaming silver and gold and flashing jewels.

    The Rival Campers | Ruel Perley Smith
  • Urgent as the situation was, he stood for a few moments meditative, contemplating the phosphorescence of the waves.

    Toilers of the Sea | Victor Hugo
  • That is phosphorescence, which is very common in tropical seas, sometimes the whole sea is alight with it.

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

    Astronomy for Amateurs | Camille Flammarion

British Dictionary definitions for phosphorescence


/ (ˌfɒsfəˈrɛsəns) /

  1. physics

    • a fluorescence that persists after the bombarding radiation producing it has stopped

    • a fluorescence for which the average lifetime of the excited atoms is greater than 10 –8 seconds

  2. the light emitted in phosphorescence

  1. the emission of light during a chemical reaction, such as bioluminescence, in which insufficient heat is evolved to cause fluorescence: Compare 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

Scientific definitions for phosphorescence


[ fŏs′fə-rĕsəns ]

  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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.