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[lan-tern] /ˈlæn tərn/
a transparent or translucent, usually portable, case for enclosing a light and protecting it from the wind, rain, etc.
the chamber at the top of a lighthouse, surrounding the light.
  1. a tall, more or less open construction admitting light to an enclosed area below.
  2. any light, decorative structure of relatively small size crowning a roof, dome, etc.
  3. an open-sided structure on a roof to let out smoke or to assist ventilation.
a light, usually over the entrance to an elevator on each floor of a multistory building, that signals the approach of the elevator.
Origin of lantern
1250-1300; Middle English lanterne < Latin lanterna (< Etruscan) < Greek lamptḗr lamp, light Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lantern
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We left the lantern at Tanugamanono, and then down in the starlight.

  • There, by the light of a lantern, he and Jud made Andrew as comfortable as possible.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Daniel had left the lantern burning at the front gate, and with it he lighted the doctor through the court and up the stairs.

    The Goose Man Jacob Wassermann
  • He lighted the lantern, and Hal Dozier went down the steep steps, humming.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • The man with the lantern looked quickly about and then moved swiftly into the mouth of the tunnel.

  • The telegram was found, and the captain read it, while Tim held the lantern.

  • "Now come, father," Doa Marianna said, as she seized a lantern and boldly entered the excavation.

    Stronghand Gustave Aimard
  • The lantern, set on a tombstone beside them, blinked in a snowy gust.

  • Come, bring me the lantern here; let us look at a face which will be presumably pretty.

    Darkness and Dawn Frederic W. Farrar
British Dictionary definitions for lantern


a light with a transparent or translucent protective case
a structure on top of a dome or roof having openings or windows to admit light or air
the upper part of a lighthouse that houses the light
(photog) short for magic lantern
Word Origin
C13: from Latin lanterna, from Greek lamptēr lamp, from lampein to shine
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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Word Origin and History for lantern

mid-13c., from Old French lanterne "lamp, lantern, light" (12c.), from Latin lanterna "lantern, lamp, torch," altered (by influence of Latin lucerna "lamp") from Greek lampter "torch," from lampein "to shine" (see lamp). Variant lanthorn (16c.-19c.) was folk etymology based on the common use of horn as a translucent cover. Lantern-jaws "hollow, long cheeks" is from a resemblance noted since at least mid-14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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