adj. bright·er, bright·est
a. Emitting or reflecting light readily or in large amounts; shining.
b. Comparatively high on the scale of brightness: bright red.
c. Full of light or illumination: a bright sunny day; a stage bright with spotlights.
2. Characterizing a dyestuff that produces a highly saturated color; brilliant.
3. Glorious; splendid: one of the bright stars of stage and screen; a bright moment in history.
4. Full of promise and hope; auspicious: had a bright future in publishing.
5. Happy; cheerful: bright faces.
6. Quick to learn or understand; intelligent.
7. High and clear: the bright sound of the trumpet section.
[Middle English, from Old English beorht; see bherəg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
bright, brightly adv.
Synonyms: bright, brilliant, radiant, lustrous, lambent, luminous, incandescent, effulgent
These adjectives refer to what emits or reflects light. Bright is the most general: bright sunshine; a bright white shirt.
Brilliant implies intense brightness and often suggests sparkling or gleaming light: brilliant floodlights; a brilliant gemstone.
Something radiant emits or seems to emit light in rays: a radiant sunrise; a table set with radiant crystal.
A lustrous object reflects an agreeable sheen: thick, lustrous hair.
Lambent applies to a soft, flickering light: "its tranquil streets, bathed in the lambent green of budding trees" (James C. McKinley).
Luminous especially refers to something that glows in the dark: a luminous watch dial.
Incandescent stresses burning brilliance: fireworks exploding in incandescent colors.
Effulgent suggests splendid radiance: "The crocus, the snowdrop, and the effulgent daffodil are considered bright harbingers of spring" (John Gould). See Also Synonyms at intelligent.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.