When you see sudden bright flashes of light in the sky, you're seeing lightning, the release of electricity between clouds or the ground.

Lightning can be scary, and if it strikes a person, it can kill. You can tell how close the lightning is by how long the delay is between the light and the sound of the rolling roar or crack of thunder that accompanies it. If they're close together, get inside, quick! Because lighting strikes so fast, we use its name for other speedy things, like the lightning-fast service at a good coffee shop.

Definitions of lightning

n the flash of light that accompanies an electric discharge in the atmosphere (or something resembling such a flash); can scintillate for a second or more

heat lightning
bright flashes of light near the horizon without thunder (especially on hot evenings); usually attributed to distant lightning that is reflected by clouds
sheet lighting
lightning that appears as a broad sheet; due to reflections of more distant lightning and to diffusion by the clouds
Type of:
a sudden intense burst of radiant energy

n abrupt electric discharge from cloud to cloud or from cloud to earth accompanied by the emission of light

chain lightning, forked lightning
a form of lightning that moves rapidly in a zigzag path with one end divided (fork-like)
bolt, bolt of lightning, thunderbolt
a discharge of lightning accompanied by thunder
Type of:
atmospheric electricity
electrical discharges in the atmosphere

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