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[loo-muh-nes-uh ns] /ˌlu məˈnɛs əns/
the emission of light not caused by incandescence and occurring at a temperature below that of incandescent bodies.
the light produced by such an emission.
Origin of luminescence
1885-90; < Latin lūmin- (see lumen) + -escence
Related forms
luminescent, adjective
nonluminescence, noun
nonluminescent, adjective
unluminescent, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for luminescent
  • luminescent and fluorescent bulbs might be more virtuous, but they shone more dully, and poets loved them less.
  • And these luminescent particles were released by a comb jelly.
  • And maybe eyes in the dark depths of the ocean enable creatures to see other luminescent creatures.
  • Your kids can only bob in the water for so long before the chlorine turns their hair a luminescent green.
  • Four of the species are completely new to scientists, and three previously known species were discovered to be luminescent.
  • Align the time and the date on the bezel, then check out the luminescent face.
  • The light organ is composed of silvery reflector plates and luminescent bacteria.
  • All of them, with their sensuous curves and luminescent faces, beg to be beheld.
  • Stretch lace is interwoven with luminescent strands, soaking up the sun while you run errands in your underwear.
  • From all across the desert they came, with luminescent wires in their hair or war paint on their faces.
British Dictionary definitions for luminescent


  1. the emission of light at low temperatures by any process other than incandescence, such as phosphorescence or chemiluminescence
  2. the light emitted by such a process
Derived Forms
luminescent, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Latin lūmen light
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 luminescent

1889, from luminescence + -ent.



1884, from Latin lumen (genitive luminis) "light" (see luminous) + -escence.

Fluorescence and Phosphorescence -- Prof. E. Wiedmann has made a new study of these phenomena. He proposes the general name luminescence for evolutions of light which do not depend on the temperature of the substance concerned. ["Photographic News," April 20, 1888]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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luminescent in Medicine

luminescence lu·mi·nes·cence (lōō'mə-něs'əns)

  1. The emission of light that does not derive energy from the temperature of the emitting body, as in fluorescence and bioluminescence.

  2. The light so emitted.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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luminescent in Science
  1. The emission of light as a result of the excitation of atoms by energy other than heat. Bioluminescence, fluorescence, and phosphorescence are examples of luminescence that can be produced by biological or chemical processes.

  2. The light produced in this way.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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