Meaning of LIGHTNING in English


I. light ‧ ning 1 /ˈlaɪtnɪŋ/ BrE AmE noun [uncountable]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Origin: lighten 'to become less dark' ]

1 . a powerful flash of light in the sky caused by electricity and usually followed by ↑ thunder :

Two farmworkers were struck by lightning (=hit by lightning) .

Lightning flashed overhead.

2 . like lightning extremely quickly:

Mitch moved like lightning and caught the little girl before she fell.

3 . lightning never strikes twice something bad or unpleasant is not likely to happen to the same people or in the same place twice

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■ phrases

▪ a flash of lightning/a lightning flash (=a sudden light from lightning)

Suddenly there was a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder.


A series of lightning flashes crackled overhead.

▪ a bolt of lightning/a lightning bolt (=lightning that appears as a long white line)

The tree was struck by a lightning bolt.

▪ a lightning strike (=an occasion when lightning hits something)

A lightning strike sent a surge through the electricity supply system.

▪ a lightning storm

A lightning storm lit up the night sky.

▪ thunder and lightning

After a few minutes, the thunder and lightning moved further away.

■ verbs

▪ lightning flashes

Lightning flashed in the sky, and there was a loud crash of thunder.

▪ lightning hits/strikes something

The house had been hit by lightning.

▪ lightning lights (up) something

Lightning lit up the room briefly.

■ adjectives

▪ forked lightning (=lightning that appears as lines connected to each other)

Forked lightning spread across the sky.

▪ sheet lightning (=lightning that appears as a sudden flash of brightness covering a large area of sky)

Thunder rumbled and sheet lightning flashed ominously among the clouds.

II. lightning 2 BrE AmE adjective [only before noun]

very fast, and often without warning:

a lightning attack

at/with lightning speed (=extremely quickly)

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.