from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various bioluminescent dinoflagellates of the genus Noctiluca that when grouped in large numbers make the sea phosphorescent.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A genus of free-swimming phosphorescent pelagicinfusorialanimalcules, typical of the family Noctilucidæ.
  • noun A member of this genus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Old Chem.) That which shines at night; -- a fanciful name for phosphorus.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A genus of marine flagellate Infusoria, remarkable for their unusually large size and complex structure, as well as for their phosphorescence. The brilliant diffuse phosphorescence of the sea is often due to myriads of Noctilucæ.

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

  • noun large bioluminescent marine protozoan


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

[New Latin Noctilūca, genus name, from Latin noctilūca, lantern, moon : nocti-, nocti- + lūcēre, to shine; see leuk- in Indo-European roots.]



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