One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A window or similar opening set into a roof or ceiling to admit light, or as a means of ventilation. Compare "lantern", "skylight". Now rare.
2Chiefly literary and poetic. A source of light in the sky; specifically the moon, sun, or (in plural) stars. Now somewhat rare.
3A lantern designed to float up into the air when lit, typically consisting of a rice paper shell over a bamboo or wire frame, illuminated by a small candle or other naked flame at its open base which also causes the lantern to rise by heating the air inside the shell.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The New York Herald. From sky + lantern.
sky lantern/ˈskʌɪ ˌlantən/
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