Fluorescent vs incandescent

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Fluorescent and incandescent are two terms that are usually used to describe a certain household item. We will examine the difference between the terms fluorescent and incandescent, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Fluorescent may describe a mineral or other substance that shows fluorescence, a type of radiation, but the term is also used to describe a certain type of light bulb. A fluorescent light bulb generates light by exciting a gas inside the bulb, causing it to glow. The word fluorescent is derived from the prefix fluoro-, which describes the presence of fluorine or the presence of fluorescence, and the suffix -escent, which means beginning or coming to be.

Incandescent may describe a strong emotion, but the term is also used to describe a type of light bulb. An incandescent light bulb generates light by heating a metal filament inside the bulb until it radiates light. Incandescent bulbs were the original type of light bulb, used exclusively well into the twenty-first century. However, fluorescent light bulbs have quickly becomes the implement of choice. Incandescent light bulbs stay cool when in use, draw much less electricity and last longer. However, the initial cost is higher than an incandescent bulb. The word incandescent is derived from the Latin word incandescentem, which means to glow or to become warm.


The Sterling Hill Mining Museum is known to have the world’s largest publicly displayed collection of fluorescent rocks—ones that beam bright neon colors under certain types of light. (The Smithsonian Magazine)

At first glance, the conspicuous white ceiling hovering over the stage in Liz Gerring’s Horizon is reminiscent of a giant fluorescent light bulb, flattened out over several feet and suspended in the air like a cloud. (The Chicago Reader)

If they try to do this, their base will (correctly) perceive themselves losing power and status in the party, and they will be incandescent. (The Charlotte Observer)

Swap out your incandescent or CLS light bulbs in favor of more efficient LED bulbs and get the “biggest bang for your buck,” says Marc Treitler, partner and general counsel for utility billing and management company Conservice. (Forbes Magazine)