What does the word ‘lambent’ mean?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: lambent.

I don’t typically read autobiographies written by TV performers, but I made an exception for Kate Mulgrew, one of the stars of the hit show Orange is the New Black.

I heard her interviewed on the radio and she sounded so interesting that I decided to give it a try. I immediately put the book — with the unforgettable title Born With Teeth — “on hold” at my local library.

The book disappointed me. I found the story-telling disjointed and the author lacking in self-insight. What enabled her to become such a major star so young? At age 17, she was accepted at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting in New York City. And by age 20 she had a starring role in the ABC soap opera Ryan’s HopeBut Mulgrew describes these parts of her life with a virtual shrug. Mainly, I think, she wrote the book to discuss her life as an unmarried mother who gave up her daughter for adoption during the start of her career. (She reunited with her in 2001.)

The book, however, gave me my word of the week, the adjective lambent. Here’s how Mulgrew used it (the sentence fragment is her own):

Lambent sunsets, and suddenly the heavens would open and a soft rain would fall, seagulls soaring upward, the ocean spray meeting the clouds in a dazzling display of beauty.

Lambent means something that glows, gleams or flickers with a soft radiance. The origin of the word is Latin from lambentem , present participle of lamb ere meaning “to lick.”

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