Definition of lantern in US English:



  • 1A lamp with a transparent case protecting the flame or electric bulb, and typically having a handle by which it can be carried or hung.

    ‘a paper lantern’
    • ‘Along the one-kilometer road, which is closed to traffic at night, Chinese paper lanterns provide dim illumination and an exotic, enticing aura.’
    • ‘She took her duty to carry her lantern properly very seriously and her day was made when one of the volunteers on the Herb Festival stall complimented her personally.’
    • ‘In terms of outdoor illumination, colonials who ventured out at night carried torches or lanterns.’
    • ‘The moon helped out by shining brightly, while the 70 visitors carried torches and lanterns.’
    • ‘Daniel was indeed awake, carrying the lit lantern and already halfway to the door when she burst in.’
    • ‘Over a three-day period, candles, oil lamps, paper lanterns, and electric bulbs are lit to show how angels lit Buddha's return from heaven.’
    • ‘The most interesting of the three was the lantern - it carries a curse: if its flame goes out while you pass, you will die within the year.’
    • ‘A torch procession will walk to the beach, with children carrying colourful lanterns made at workshops during the day, and on arrival at the beach there will be a large willow sculpture of a phoenix to be set on fire.’
    • ‘Organisers are also still looking for lanterneers to carry the feature lanterns.’
    • ‘Thanks to those who helped out during each station, in carrying the cross, carrying the lanterns, singing, reading, sowing etc.’
    • ‘For the past month young and old had been constructing their own lanterns to carry in the procession and they included sparkling swans, stars and angels.’
    • ‘Here, away from the street lamps and lanterns of the towns, millions of stars burned blue in the firmament, as though a giant had taken handfuls of glittering sand and flung them into the sky.’
    • ‘The rescue effort fell to ‘dalesmen and doctors’ who set off at 7pm that night to navigate the punishing terrain carrying lanterns and stretchers.’
    • ‘Electric lanterns and flashlights have probably dimmed, then gone out.’
    • ‘You come in here and sprinkle the place with powder and spray perfume and cover the light bulb with a paper lantern, and lo and behold the place has turned into Egypt and you are the Queen of the Nile!’
    • ‘Immediately, the doors swung open, and a soldier hurried out, carrying a lit lantern.’
    • ‘And we took note that the decor followed the motif suggested by the restaurant's name, with matching electric lanterns at regular intervals hanging from the ceiling.’
    • ‘Maxine flicked on the electric lantern she was carrying, filling the corridor with a crisp, bluish light that was strange after the faint orange illumination of the torches.’
    • ‘Traffic was brought to a standstill for nearly an hour as a succession of people carrying lanterns in all shapes and sizes wound round the streets.’
    • ‘Our hosts provided us each with a candle-lit paper lantern to carry.’
    lamp, torch, flashlight
    View synonyms
  • 2A square, curved, or polygonal structure on the top of a dome or a room, with the sides glazed or open so as to admit light.

    • ‘Daylight is admitted by a lantern and bounced off a textile covered funnel-shaped reflector built off the column.’
    • ‘The base of the octagonal lantern is adorned with female heads, an inner rope-twist molding, and an outer lambrequin fringe.’
    • ‘On top of each pyramid is a lantern that both brings light to the central stair of the pavilion and acts as a climate control mechanism.’
    • ‘The north wall opens up to the sunken courtyard to draw in cool air, and the tapered lanterns serve as thermal chimneys, with openable louvres to evacuate hot air.’
    • ‘In the center of this Greek cross plan, he placed a rotunda surmounted by a low dome topped by a lantern.’
    • ‘The hexagonal belfry contains six louvers with pointed arches and is crowned by an octagonal lantern and a copper dome.’
    • ‘This forms a courtyard, a lantern and a lung for the adjacent interior spaces.’
    1. 2.1 The light chamber at the top of a lighthouse.
      • ‘The proposed aerial will stick out for 1.5 metres alongside the lower walkway railings below the lighthouse lantern, and has two antennae of nearly a metre each.’


Middle English: from Old French lanterne, from Latin lanterna, from Greek lamptēr ‘torch, lamp’, from lampein ‘to shine’.