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heat lightning

lightning too distant for thunder to be heard, observed as diffuse flashes near the horizon on summer evenings.
Origin of heat lightning
1825-35, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for heat-lightning
Historical Examples
  • A pale flare of heat-lightning turned the world, momentarily, from jet black to a dim sulphur-color.

    Lad: A Dog Albert Payson Terhune
  • It reminded the other man of heat-lightning on a dark skyline.

    The Shadow Arthur Stringer
  • But now and then, for an instant, the post sprang into sight out of the blackness to the weird play of the heat-lightning.

    The Plow-Woman Eleanor Gates
  • Then the heat-lightning smile played about the hollow face again.

    The Shadow Arthur Stringer
  • The room was now perfectly dark, except for an occasional flash of heat-lightning from the vanished storm.

  • Mrs. Bolton kept a grim silence, against which her husband's babble of optimism played like heat-lightning on a night sky.

    Annie Kilburn William Dean Howells
  • From all sides the horizon drew near in black walls across which the heat-lightning wrote in rageful zigzags.

    Caybigan James Hopper
  • The wind had fallen asleep in the pinelands and lurid sheets of heat-lightning flickered across the northern skies.

    Anne Of The Island Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • It makes you feel like heat-lightning just to watch 'em fly!

    The Port of Adventure Charles Norris Williamson and Alice Muriel Williamson
  • The night was pitch dark, except for pulses of heat-lightning, now and then, far to westward.

    Lad: A Dog Albert Payson Terhune
British Dictionary definitions for heat-lightning

heat lightning

flashes of light seen near the horizon, esp on hot evenings: reflections of more distant lightning
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
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heat-lightning in Science
heat lightning  
Intermittent flashes of reddish or orange light near the horizon, usually seen on a hot summer evening and unaccompanied by thunder. Heat lightning is thought to be the reflection of distant lightning on clouds. Its color is believed to be due to the refraction of light in the atmosphere. See also sheet lightning, See more at lightning.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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