sheet lightning

noun
lightning appearing merely as a general illumination over a broad area, usually because the path of the flash is obscured by clouds.

Origin:
1820–30

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
sheet lightning
 
n
lightning that appears as a broad sheet, caused by the reflection of more distant lightning

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
sheet lightning   (shēt)  Pronunciation Key 
A broad, sheetlike illumination of a portion of a thundercloud, caused by an unseen, often internal or reflected lightning flash. See also heat lightning, See more at lightning.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Finally the sheet lightning rocking the harbour in long slow breaths while salvos of thunder cracked over the dancing roof-tops.
Sheet lightning appears as flashes of light that seems to light up or illuminate entire clouds.
One of the many forms of lightning is called sheet lightning.
The leaping and luminous blossoms of live sheet lightning that laugh as they fade.
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