Middle English (13th century), via Old French lanterne from Latin lanterna (“lantern”), itself a corruption of Ancient Greek λαμπτήρ (lamptḗr, “torch”) (see lamp, λάμπω) by influence of Latin lucerna (“lamp”). The spelling lanthorn was current during the 16th to 19th centuries and originates with a folk etymology associating the word with the use of horn as translucent cover. For the verb, compare French lanterner to hang at the lamp-post.
- (archaic) lanthorn
lantern (plural lanterns)
- A case of translucent or transparent material made to protect a flame, or light, used to illuminate its surroundings.
- (theater) Especially, a metal casing with lens used to illuminate a stage (e.g. spotlight, floodlight).
- (architecture) An open structure of light material set upon a roof, to give light and air to the interior.
- (architecture) A cage or open chamber of rich architecture, open below into the building or tower which it crowns.
- (architecture) A smaller and secondary cupola crowning a larger one, for ornament, or to admit light.
- the lantern of the cupola of the Capitol at Washington, or that of the Florence cathedral
- (engineering) A lantern pinion or trundle wheel.
- (steam engines) A kind of cage inserted in a stuffing box and surrounding a piston rod, to separate the packing into two parts and form a chamber between for the reception of steam, etc.; a lantern brass.
- (rail transport) A light formerly used as a signal by a railway guard or conductor at night.
- (metalworking) A perforated barrel to form a core upon.
- (zoology) Aristotle's lantern
- (transitive) To furnish with a lantern.
- to lantern a lighthouse