What does lightning mean?

Definitions for lightning
ˈlaɪt nɪŋlight·ning

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word lightning.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. lightningnoun

    abrupt electric discharge from cloud to cloud or from cloud to earth accompanied by the emission of light

  2. lightningnoun

    the flash of light that accompanies an electric discharge in the atmosphere (or something resembling such a flash); can scintillate for a second or more


  1. lightningnoun

    The flash of light caused by the discharge of atmospheric electrical charge.

  2. lightningnoun

    The discharge of atmospheric electrical charge itself.

    That tree was hit by lightning.

  3. lightningnoun

    Anything that moves very fast.

  4. lightningverb

    To produce lightning.

  5. lightningadjective

    Extremely fast or sudden.

  6. lightningadjective

    Moving at the speed of lightning.

  7. Etymology: light(e)n + -ing

Webster Dictionary

  1. Lightningnoun

    a discharge of atmospheric electricity, accompanied by a vivid flash of light, commonly from one cloud to another, sometimes from a cloud to the earth. The sound produced by the electricity in passing rapidly through the atmosphere constitutes thunder

  2. Lightningnoun

    the act of making bright, or the state of being made bright; enlightenment; brightening, as of the mental powers

  3. Lightning


  4. Etymology: [For lightening, fr. lighten to flash.]


  1. Lightning

    Lightning is a massive electrostatic discharge between electrically charged regions within clouds, or between a cloud and the Earth's surface. The charged regions within the atmosphere temporarily equalize themselves through a lightning flash, commonly referred to as a strike if it hits an object on the ground. There are three primary types; from a cloud to itself; from one cloud to another cloud and finally between a cloud and the ground. Although lightning is always accompanied by the sound of thunder, distant lightning may be seen but be too far away for the thunder to be heard. Lightning occurs approximately 40–50 times a second worldwide, resulting in nearly 1.4 billion flashes per year. Many factors affect the frequency, distribution, strength, and physical properties of a "typical" lightning flash to a particular region of the world. These factors include ground elevation, latitude, prevailing wind currents, relative humidity, proximity to warm and cold bodies of water, etc. To a certain degree, the ratio between IC, CC and CG lightning may also vary by season in middle latitudes. Because human beings are terrestrial and most of their possessions are on the Earth, where lightning can damage or destroy them, CG lightning is the most studied and best understood of the three types, even though IC and CC are more common. Lightning's relative unpredictability limits a complete explanation of how or why it occurs, even after hundreds of years of scientific investigation. A typical cloud to ground lightning flash culminates in the formation of an electrically conducting plasma channel through the air in excess of 5 km tall, from within the cloud to the ground's surface. The actual discharge is the final stage of a very complex process. A typical thunderstorm has three or more strikes to the Earth per minute at its peak.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Lightning

    An abrupt high-current electric discharge that occurs in the ATMOSPHERE and that has a path length ranging from hundreds of feet to tens of miles. (From McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 6th ed)

The Standard Electrical Dictionary

  1. Lightning

    The electrostatic discharge to the earth or among themselves of clouds floating in the atmosphere. The discharge is accompanied by a spark or other luminous effect, which may be very bright and the effects, thermal and mechanical, are often of enormous intensity. The lightning flash is white near the earth, but in the upper regions where the air is rarefied it is of a blue tint, like the spark of the electric machine. The flashes are often over a mile in length, and sometimes are four or five miles long. They have sometimes a curious sinuous and often a branching shape, which has been determined by photography only recently. To the eye the shape seems zigzag. In the case of a mile-long flash it has been estimated that 3,516,480 De la Rue cells, q. v., would be required for the development of the potential, giving the flash over three and one-half millions of volts. But as it is uncertain how far the discharge is helped on its course by the rain drops this estimate may be too high. There are two general types of flash. The so-called zigzag flash resembles the spark of an electric machine, and is undoubtedly due to the disruptive discharge from cloud to earth. Sheet lightning has no shape, simply is a sudden glow, and from examination of the spectrum appears to be brush discharges (see Discharge, Brush) between clouds. Heat lightning is attributed to flashes below the horizon whose light only is seen by us. Globe or ball lightning takes the form of globes of fire, sometimes visible for ten seconds, descending from the clouds. On reaching the earth they sometimes rebound, and sometimes explode with a loud detonation. No adequate explanation has been found for them. The flash does not exceed one-millionth of a second in duration; its absolute light is believed to be comparable to that of the sun, but its brief duration makes its total light far less than that of the sun for any period of time. If the disruptive discharge passes through a living animal it is often fatal. As it reaches the earth it often has power enough to fuse sand, producing fulgurites, q. v. (See also Back Shock or Stroke of Lightning.) Volcanic lightning, which accompanies the eruptions of volcanoes, is attributed to friction of the volcanic dust and to vapor condensation. [Transcriber's note: The origin of lightning is still (2008) not fully understood, but is thought to relate to charge separation in the vertical motion of water droplets and ice crystals in cloud updrafts. A lightning bolt carries a current of 40,000 to 120,000 amperes, and transfers a charge of about five coulombs. Nearby air is heated to about 10,000 °C (18,000 °F), almost twice the temperature of the Sun’s surface.]

Suggested Resources

  1. lightning

    Song lyrics by lightning -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by lightning on the Lyrics.com website.

How to pronounce lightning?

How to say lightning in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of lightning in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of lightning in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of lightning in a Sentence

  1. Victor Hedman:

    The Cup champions understand that as much as those who haven't won. Peter DeBoer said Alex Pietrangelo, who captained St. Louis to the Cup two years ago, has tried to explain what that taste was like and the desire to get there again. Reigning playoff MVP Victor Hedman knows it well. He hopes Savard's fresh look and the Lightning's winning experience is the right blend to get it done again. ' Savvy has n’t had that opportunity yet, but he’s brought a lot of excitement into the room and just a great guy to be around, we’re still very, very hungry. Even though Eric Staal go all the way, that’s contagious. Eric Staal want to do it again.

  2. Jason Penny:

    It appeared that no one person had gotten struck by lightning, they were just near a lightning strike that knocked some of the people down.

  3. Jean Baptiste Lacoraire:

    The affections are like lightning; You cannot tell where they will strike till they have fallen

  4. Rick Thoman:

    This very warm weather, on top of the warm May, the very early snowmelt, then we had those two weeks of lightning strikes — it's the classic setup.

  5. Eugene F. Ware:

    The lightning-bug is brilliant, but he hasn't any mind He stumbles through existence with his head-light on behind. - from The Lightning-Bug

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for lightning

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for lightning »


Find a translation for the lightning definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:

Discuss these lightning definitions with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


    "lightning." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 29 Jun 2022. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/lightning>.

    Are we missing a good definition for lightning? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Image or illustration of


    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    of all varieties or forms or kinds
    • A. appellative
    • B. omnifarious
    • C. epidemic
    • D. eminent

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for lightning: