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From Latin lambens, present participle of lambō (lick).



lambent (comparative more lambent, superlative most lambent)

  1. Brushing or flickering gently over a surface.
    • 1800, William Cowper, The Task, Book VI: "The Winter Walk at Noon", Poems, J. Johnson, page 232,
      No foe to man / Lurks in the ſerpent now: the mother ſees, / And ſmiles to ſee, her infant's playful hand / Stretch'd forth to dally with the creſted worm, / To ſtroke his azure neck, or to receive / The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue.
    • 1977, Stephen R. Donaldson, Lord Foul’s Bane, page 77
      “As they walked together between the houses, Lena’s smooth arm brushed his. His skin felt lambent at the touch.”
  2. Glowing or luminous, but lacking heat.
    The lambent glow of fireflies delighted the children.
    • 1839, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jonathan Birch (translator), Faust: A Tragedy, Black and Armstrong, page 127,
      The Witch, with much ceremony, fills the basin. As FAUST is about to raise it to his lips, it emits a clear flame.
      MEPHISTOPHELES. Quick! quickly down with it!—no breathing time allowed! […] And does a lambent flame prevent thee quaff?
    • 1984, Edward Abbey, Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside‎, page 192:
      the lambent glowing light of the midnight sun. (I dislike that word lambent, but it must be employed.) A soft, benevolent radiance, you might say, playing upon the emerald green, the virgin swales of grass and moss and heather and Swede heads
  3. Exhibiting lightness or brilliance of wit; clever or witty without unkindness.
    We appreciated her lambent comments.


Derived terms[edit]




  1. third-person plural future active indicative of lambō