11 Dec /14


As a word scintillate first appears in a dictionary with the interesting title “The English Dictionary, or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words” which appeared in 1623. The dictionary actually introduced hundreds of new words into the English language, and was the leading dictionary of the time. Scintillate was defined as “to sparkle or leap up” and related to flashes of fire or light.

This was also the meaning taken up the first time scintillating was used as an adjective. In a book published in 1664 about wells, a specific well is described as follows “The saltish and scintillating stones of the well”. It took over 100 years for this sparkling and brightness to be applied to humans.  In 1793 in a review of a comedy, the review describes ways that playwrights awaken passion. One of them is “scintillating flashes of wit”. And the word was obviously well known at the time. Again in a theoretical paper on the meaning of humour, hilarity is given as the opposite of “all the scintillating effects of real wit, and brilliancy in conversation”.

From this time onward the main use of scintillating was in relation to fascinating conversation which sparkled and was entertaining.