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Guests holding large sparklers at a wedding ceremony

Borrowed from Latin scintillātus, past participle of scintillāre (to sparkle, glitter, gleam, flash), from scintilla (a spark).



scintillate (third-person singular simple present scintillates, present participle scintillating, simple past and past participle scintillated)

  1. (intransitive) To give off sparks; to shine as if emanating sparks; to twinkle or glow.
    • 1817, “The New Blow-pipe”, in The Eclectic Repertory, and Analytical Review, Medical and Philosophical, volume VII, number XXVI, Philadelphia, Pa.: Published by Thomas Dobson and Son, at the Stone House, No. 41, South Second Street. William Fry, printer., →OCLC, page 264:
      Much interest appears to have been lately excited in England by Dr. Clarke's Experiments on the Blow-pipe, and the dangers of explosion attempted to be guarded against, by various contrivances. The following letter inserted in the Philosophical Magazine for December 1816, will show the importance attached to this interesting application of the gases in promoting fusion. [] 1. Platinum as thick as a stocking wire was instantly fused, scintillated, and fell into a large globule. 2. Palladium fused instantly and slightly scintillated.
    • 1920, The Cornhill Magazine, London: Smith, Elder & Co., →OCLC, page 737:
      In fact, the whole place scintillated. Madame scintillated with combs and finery and jewellery behind the counter, mirrors innumerable scintillated behind Madame, whilst the ragtime scintillated from (as I discovered) a pianola []
    • 1952, Norman Lewis, Golden Earth:
      The streets of Rangoon, wallowing in sun, flashed and scintillated with strolling crowds, skirted in their best silk longyis.
    • 1969, The New York Times Book Review and Magazine, volume II, New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, →OCLC, page 24:
      There it no other word to describe it; the book scintillates. It moves with a rush and a sweep that carry the reader along like a chip on the current of the Niagara rapids.
    • 2001, Marcus [Andrew Hislop] Clarke, edited by Lurline Stuart, His Natural Life (Academy Editions of Australian Literature), book I, St Lucia, Qld.: University of Queensland Press, →ISBN, page 80:
      The interior of the prison flashed white with suddenly-turned faces. The gloom scintillated, as it were, with rapidly-moving hands.
    • 2009, Harry Holloway, Christian Yoga – Love God with All Your Strength and your Neighbor as Yourself: The Gospels Enlightened – for Me, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris Corporation, →ISBN, page 96:
      I seemed suddenly to see everything in a brilliant light. All was scintillating. I seemed to be enlightened and understood everything with which people were involved.
    • 2011, Hugh P. McGrath, Michael Comenetz, quoting Paul Valéry, “Description of the Poem”, in Valéry's Graveyard: Le Cimetière marin Translated, Described, and Peopled (Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures; 186), New York, N.Y.: Peter Lang Publishing, →ISBN, page 20:
      a quivering roof; / the scintillating surface of the sea; / time itself, scintillating; []
  2. (astronomy) Of a star or other celestial body: to vary rapidly in brightness; to twinkle.
    • 1857 December 11, Charles Dufour, “Notes on the Scintillation of the Stars. By Professor Dufour. (Extracts of Letters to Professor Piazzi Smyth.)”, in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Containing Papers, Abstracts of Papers, and Reports of the Proceedings of the Society, volume XVIII, number 2, London: Printed by George Barclay, Castle Street, Leicester Square and published at the apartments of the [Royal Astronomical] Society, published 1858, →OCLC, page 53:
      Do the stars scintillate at all altitudes? Is there any altitude at which it ceases to manifest itself? At Morges the stars in general scintillate at all altitudes, although feebly near the zenith; but on the nights when the scintillation is very faint, it ceases completely at a zenith distance of 45°.
    • 1860 March, Charles Dufour, “XXIX. Instructions for the Better Observation of the Scintillation of the Stars. By Charles Dufour, Professor of Mathematics at Morges.”, in The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, volume XIX (4th Ser.), number CXXVI, London: Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, printers and publishers to the University of London [...], page 223:
      It is generally believed that the planets do not scintillate at all, or scarcely at all. Nevertheless I have often observed a sensible scintillation of Venus and Mars, and in a few rare cases I have also observed a slight scintillation of Jupiter and Saturn. [] I would therefore call the attention of observers who may find themselves under atmospherical conditions of a nature to render the general scintillation very strong, to this point, as they might perhaps be able to ascertain whether Jupiter and Saturn ever sensibly scintillate.
    • 2007, Judith A[nn] Irwin, “Measuring the Signal”, in Astrophysics: Decoding the Cosmos, Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, →ISBN, page 48:
      A star, or other point-like source, viewed through the atmosphere can be seen by eye to fluctuate in intensity. An extended object has a brightness distribution that is convolved with the seeing disk. That is, the object's brightness distribution can be thought of as a series of point sources of different brightness, each one 'blurred' to the size of the seeing disk and each seeing disk is scintillating. If the eye could spatially resolve each of these points, it would see brightness fluctuations across a source. However, the resolution of the human eye (≈ 1′) is much poorer than the seeing (≈ 1″). [] The result is that the eye perceives an extended source as steadily shining.
  3. (nuclear physics) Especially of a phosphor: to emit a flash of light upon absorbing ionizing radiation.
  4. (transitive, now rare) To throw off like sparks.
    • 1857, Anthony Trollope, “Mr. Arabin”, in Barchester Towers: In Three Volumes, London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts, OCLC 911659634; republished as Barchester Towers. [...] In Two Volumes (Hand and Pocket Library; II), volume I, New York, N.Y.: Dick & Fitzgerald, 18 Ann Street, [1860], OCLC 863553483, page 201:
      As a boy young Arabin took up the cudgels on the side of the Tractarians, and at Oxford he sat for a while at the feet of the great [John Henry] Newman. To this cause he lent all his faculties. For it he concocted verses, for it he made speeches, for it he scintillated the brightest sparks of his quiet wit.
    • 2010, Stony Stern, Run Past The Hunter, Pittsburgh, Pa.: RoseDog Books, →ISBN, page 158:
      [T]he adrenaline in my veins scintillated the surface of my skin sending chills all over my body.
    • 2012, David Anirman, The Itofit, Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 250:
      It [the wind] rushed through the resonant stone horns and across the vibrating vines, washed though the swaying branches and leaves of the trees and scintillated the expectant flowers, all of which began to pulsate together in a tuneful but almost discordant way until the cacophonous prelude was overcome with high joyful sounds.

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  1. second-person plural present and imperative of scintillare




  1. second-person plural present active imperative of scintillō