from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality or state of being radiant.
  • n. Physics The radiant energy emitted per unit time in a specified direction by a unit area of an emitting surface.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the quality of being radiant, shining, bright or splendid
  • n. the flux of radiation emitted per unit solid angle in a given direction by a unit area of a source

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality of being radiant; brilliancy; effulgence; vivid brightness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Brightness shooting in rays or beams; hence, in general, brilliant or sparkling luster; vivid brightness.
  • n. Radiation.
  • n. Synonyms Radiance, Brilliance, Brilliancy, Effulgence, Refulgence, Splendor, Luster. These words agree in representing the shooting out of rays or beams in an Impressive way. Radiance is the most steady; it is generally a light that is agreeable to the eyes: hence the word is often chosen for corresponding figurative expressions: as, the radiance of his cheerfulness; the radiance of the gospel. Brilliance represents a light that is strong, often too strong to be agreeable, and marked by variation or play and penetration: as, the brilliance of a diamond or of fireworks. Hence, figuratively, the brilliancy of the scene at a wedding; the radiance of humor, the brilliancy of wit. Brilliance is more often literal, brilliancy figurative, Effulgence is a splendid light, seeming to fill to overflowing every place where it is—a strong, flooding, but not necessarily intense or painful light: as, the effulgence of the noonday sun; the effulgence of the attributes of God. Hence a courtier might by figure speak of the effulgence of Queen Elizabeth's beauty. Befulgence is often the same as effulgence, but sometimes weaker. Splendor, which is more often used figuratively is, when used literally, about the same as refulgence. Luster is the only one of these words which does not imply that the object gives forth light; luster may be used where the light is either emitted or reflected, but latterly more often reflected: as, the luster of silk. Luster is generally, like brilliance, a varying light, but it may be simply two or three degrees weaker than splendor. For comparison with glisten, glitter, etc., see glare, v. i.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an attractive combination of good health and happiness
  • n. the amount of electromagnetic radiation leaving or arriving at a point on a surface
  • n. the quality of being bright and sending out rays of light


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin radiare + -ance



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  • Radiance belongs to being considered precisely as beautiful; it is, in being, that which catches the eye, or ear, or the mind, and wants us to perceive it again.

    Etienne Gilson

    December 5, 2008

  • Miracles occur,

    If you care to call those spasmodic

    Tricks of radiance miracles.

    from "Black Rook in Rainy Weather," Sylvia Plath

    April 23, 2008