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[fos-fuh-res-uh ns] /ˌfɒs fəˈrɛs əns/
the property of being luminous at temperatures below incandescence, as from slow oxidation in the case of phosphorus or after exposure to light or other radiation.
a luminous appearance resulting from this.
any luminous radiation emitted from a substance after the removal of the exciting agent.
Origin of phosphorescence
1790-1800; phosphoresc(ent) + -ence
Related forms
semiphosphorescence, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for phosphorescence
  • These organisms dart away from boats, leaving eerie blue-white trails of phosphorescence.
  • At night, they may dive for schooling squid that are visible because of their phosphorescence.
  • Now scientists have found that this red phosphorescence may be the key to distinguishing all real blue diamonds from the fakes.
  • The city, as a local wit has said, gives off the phosphorescence of decay.
  • The covering of dirt was so thin that at night a strange phosphorescence emanated from the ground.
  • And soon the grazing pasture erupted in places with bright soft intermittent flashes, a lemon phosphorescence.
  • The outrigger sliced through waves that glowed with the phosphorescence of small plankton.
  • Around us, plankton causes the water's surface to give off a gleam of eerie phosphorescence.
  • phosphorescence is demonstrated by objects that continue to glow after an external light source is removed.
  • Natural phosphorescence give its eellike skin an eerie glow.
British Dictionary definitions for phosphorescence


  1. a fluorescence that persists after the bombarding radiation producing it has stopped
  2. a fluorescence for which the average lifetime of the excited atoms is greater than 10–8 seconds
the light emitted in phosphorescence
the emission of light during a chemical reaction, such as bioluminescence, in which insufficient heat is evolved to cause fluorescence Compare fluorescence
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 phosphorescence

1796, from verb phosphoresce (1794; see phosphorescent) + -ence.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phosphorescence in Medicine

phosphorescence phos·pho·res·cence (fŏs'fə-rěs'əns)

  1. Persistent emission of light following exposure to and removal of incident radiation.

  2. Emission of light without burning or by very slow burning without appreciable heat, as from the slow oxidation of phosphorous.

phos'pho·res'cent adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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phosphorescence in Science
  1. The emission of light by a substance as a result of having absorbed energy from a form of electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light or x-rays. Unlike fluorescence, phosphorescence continues for a short while after the source of radiation is removed. Glow-in-the-dark products are phosphorescent. Compare fluorescence.

  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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