• Lightning. Moqui pictograph
    Lightning. Moqui pictograph
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n lightning the flash of light that accompanies an electric discharge in the atmosphere (or something resembling such a flash); can scintillate for a second or more
    • n lightning abrupt electric discharge from cloud to cloud or from cloud to earth accompanied by the emission of light
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

Lightning, fatal. Pictograph at Jemez, N.M Lightning, fatal. Pictograph at Jemez, N.M
Lightning, harmless. Pictograph at Jemez, N.M Lightning, harmless. Pictograph at Jemez, N.M
Flying Squirrel and Lightning Bow Flying Squirrel and Lightning Bow

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Men are four times more likely to be struck by lightning than women
    • Lightning A discharge of atmospheric electricity, accompanied by a vivid flash of light, commonly from one cloud to another, sometimes from a cloud to the earth. The sound produced by the electricity in passing rapidly through the atmosphere constitutes thunder.
    • vb. n Lightning līt"nĭng Lightening.
    • Lightning The act of making bright, or the state of being made bright; enlightenment; brightening, as of the mental powers.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Lightning strikes 6,000 times every minute on the entire planet
    • n lightning A becoming light or bright; a flashing of light: in this sense usually lightening.
    • n lightning A sudden illumination of the heavens caused by the discharge of atmospheric electricity from one cloud to another or from a cloud to the earth; a flash of light due to electricity in the atmosphere. The lightning-flash may have a length of a mile or even more, and commonly takes an irregular direction (forked lightning), the path of the electrical discharge being that of the least resistance. In sheet-lightning no definite spark is seen, but a general illumination over a broad surface; it is commonly due to the reflection by the clouds of the discharge proper. This is called summer lightning or heat-lightning when the storm is at a great distance, so that only the broad flashes of light are seen, usually near the horizon, and unaccompanied by thunder. Sheet-lightning is also described as occurring when there is neither storm nor cloud; if such cases be authentic, it is probably due to a weak electrical discharge in the air at a considerable altitude. In globular lightning or globe-lightning, which is a rare phenomenon, the discharge takes a spherical form (fire-ball), sometimes apparently a foot or more in diameter, and lasts for a number of seconds, descending slowly to the earth, and often exploding with a loud report. The discharge of frictional electricity in the laboratory gives phenomena similar in kind to those of lightning, and the “brimstone odor” which sometimes accompanies the latter (due to the formation of ozone) is often observed.
    • n lightning A becoming light or less heavy; an exhilaration of the spirits.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Lightning strikes the Earth 100 times every second, from the 1,800 thunderstorms in progress at any given moment.
    • Lightning (Shak.) an exhilaration of the spirits
    • ns Lightning the electric flash usually followed by thunder:
    • ns Lightning (Shak.) a becoming bright
    • ***


  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    “To see him act is like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.”
  • Jean Baptiste Lacordaire
    Jean Baptiste Lacordaire
    “The affections are like lightning: you cannot tell where they will strike till they have fallen.”
  • Bill Bryson
    Bill Bryson
    “There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age.”
  • Horace
    “The lofty pine is oftenest shaken by the winds; High towers fall with a heavier crash; And the lightning strikes the highest mountain.”
  • Eric Mackay
    Eric Mackay
    “Lightning is the shorthand of a storm, and tells of chaos.”
  • Damien Cannon
    Damien Cannon
    “If you pray for rain, don't be surprised if you're struck by lightning.”


Greased lightning - If something or someone moves like greased lightning, they move very fast indeed.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
For lightening, fr. lighten, to flash


In literature:

Hollyhock, who could ride splendidly, was soon seated on the back of her glorious Arab, Lightning Speed.
"Hollyhock" by L. T. Meade
Quick almost as the lightning's flash is the turning of the tide.
"My Days and Nights on the Battle-Field" by Charles Carleton Coffin
Continuous sheets of lightning made the night as bright as day.
"Battling the Clouds" by Captain Frank Cobb
The lightning flashed, the thunder rolled and broke above them, and the scene became terrifying.
"Operas Every Child Should Know" by Mary Schell Hoke Bacon
In the brilliant starlight he saw nothing but the two white stubs of the lightning-shattered trees in which the owls lived.
"The Valley of Silent Men" by James Oliver Curwood
The lightning of insanity flashed continually from the heavy cloud that hung upon her soul.
"Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 56, Number 350, December 1844" by Various
Even he doubted the possibility of lightning causing such destruction.
"The Golden Woman" by Ridgwell Cullum
There'll be lightning soon.
"Astounding Stories of Super-Science, June, 1930" by Various
The one whom the rest had thrust out, had been the only righteous one among them, and for his sake the lightning had spared the temple.
"The Chinese Fairy Book" by Various
It was impossible now to see his course, except by the lightning.
"Mabel's Mistake" by Ann S. Stephens

In poetry:

As he o'er whom a tyrant reigns,
It waits our sovran word,
And thinks along the living veins
The lightnings of its lord!
"The Young Man's Song" by Sydney Thompson Dobell
Is yon a cot I saw, though low?
When lightning broke the gloom—-
How welcome were its shade!—-ah, no!
'Tis but a Turkish tomb.
"Stanzas Composed During A Thunderstorm" by Lord George Gordon Byron
Too long, O Spirit of Storm,
Thy lightning sleeps in its sheath!
I am sick to the soul of yon pallid sky,
And the moveless sea beneath.
"Too Long, O Spirit Of Storm" by Henry Timrod
The lightnings in their vivid wrath,
The waving hills a starting,
Deep thro' the cloud-sea cleave a path,
From shore to shore a darting.
"The Thunder Storm" by Albery Allson Whitman
And there are bosoms bound to mine
With links both tried and strong:
And there are eyes whose lightning shine
Has warmed and blest me long:
"Last Words" by Emily Jane Bronte
Her teeth the night with darkness dyes,
She's starr'd with pimples o'er;
Her tongue like nimble lightning plies,
And can with thunder roar.
"On Lyce - An Elderly Lady" by Samuel Johnson

In news:

FPL Researchers helping ensure Lightning's Effects are gone in a Flash .
Sometimes, if I type something the editor doesn't like, such as a word in all capitals, a blue lightning icon appears (typically hiding what I just typed).
The lightning-caused fire near Mono Lake was declared 100 percent contained Wednesday, and firefighters are increasingly being moved from the Indian Fire to other fires in the state and country.
Lightning is some seriously scary stuff… it's like nature's shock therapy.
They say lightning doesn't strike twice.
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin checks Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor more.
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesBryce Harper has a solid shot to take over for LeBron James and be sports' next lightning rod.
Which weather phenomenon involves a seasonal wind system that affects rainfall — lightning or monsoon.
An official at San Francisco International Airport says lightning hit a United Airlines flight, forcing the plane to return to the airport.
The Capitals' second-round opponent just happens to be the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lightning strike By all accounts, Tony Tata performed well in his job and is to be thanked by all.
A lightning storm that swept through La Plata County kept fire crews busy on Tuesday night.
Lightning Medicine Cloud Case Closed.
He's not a lightning rod for attention.
Marathon Canceled After Becoming Lightning Rod For Criticism.

In science:

Proof Sketch and lightning introduction to elimination theory.
The amplitude modulation transform
Schnabl, Algebraic solutions in open string field theory - a lightning review, 1004.4858.
Democratic Superstring Field Theory: Gauge Fixing
Such lightnings can manifest themselves as radio bursts from RRATs .
Generalization of the Beck-Cohen superstatistics
In a lightning, we deal with an ultrarelativistic electronpositron plasma.
Generalization of the Beck-Cohen superstatistics
It was a concern that the RF noise of the local electronics and the presence of an extensive lightning-protection array might dictate the placement of one or more antennas outside the periphery of the array, or might make the site unsuitable altogether.
Detection of the RF Pulse Associated With Cosmic Ray Air Showers