[sin-tl-ey-shuh n]


the act of scintillating; sparkling.
a spark or flash.
Astronomy. the twinkling or tremulous effect of the light of the stars.
Meteorology. any small-scale twinkling or shimmering of objects that are viewed through the atmosphere, caused by an interception of the observer's line of view by inhomogeneities in the atmospheric refractive index.
  1. a flash of light from the ionization of a phosphor struck by an energetic photon or particle.
  2. random fluctuation of the amplitude, phase, or polarization of an electromagnetic wave.
(on a radar display) a slight, rapid shifting of a spot of light or the image of an object about its mean position.

Origin of scintillation

First recorded in 1615–25, scintillation is from the Latin word scintillātiōn- (stem of scintillātiō). See scintillate, -ion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scintillation

Historical Examples of scintillation

  • It is sad that I can remember nothing of all this scintillation.

    The Moon and Sixpence

    W. Somerset Maugham

  • If brains were radium, you couldn't make a flicker on a scintillation counter.

    Pagan Passions

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Miriam retorted with the first scintillation of gaiety she had shown on this occasion.

    The Tragic Muse

    Henry James

  • “To save you,” said the hermit, with a scintillation of his half-pitiful smile.

    Blown to Bits

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • So long as we can get a scintillation of their meaning we must be satisfied.

    Flowers of Freethought

    George W. Foote

British Dictionary definitions for scintillation



the act of scintillating
a spark or flash
the twinkling of stars or radio sources, caused by rapid changes in the density of the earth's atmosphere, the interplanetary medium, or the interstellar medium, producing uneven refraction of starlight
physics a flash of light produced when a material scintillates
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 scintillation

1620s, from Latin scintilationem (nominative scintillatio), noun of action from past participle stem of scintillare (see scintillate).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

scintillation in Medicine




A spark; a flash.
A flash of light produced in a phosphor by absorption of an ionizing particle or photon.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.