What word could be used to describe a glowing object or mass that though it has a quality of brilliance, does not throw light to illume anything? Say, "The mysterious ball ____ with a self-contained light." or of a city that though full of lights and vividness cannot extend its glow past the darkness of night?

  • Try sparkles.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 1, 2016 at 7:54
  • like a dance of lights that hold a glow only to themselves... could be. good one. But when you think of sparkles one tends not to think of a whole body flowing with inner light. Apr 1, 2016 at 7:56

4 Answers 4


Glimmer: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/glimmer

May carry a connotation of faintness that you don't intend>

  • 1
    I like this word for my context; if there is no better one then I'll use this one. Maybe somthing like this, "The city was a show of lights that was felt from within, but beyond the heights of buildings and into the darkness, it cowered to only a glimmer that dared not pry into the outside night." Apr 1, 2016 at 8:05

You might consider, shimmer

A subdued, tremulous light or gleam.

Random House

  • This word I like and also has faint mysterious aspect to it. When applied to an object it seams to vivifie it with a contained glow. Apr 1, 2016 at 17:34

Try illuminates "to supply or brighten with light; light up." http://www.dictionary.com/browse/illuminate http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/illuminate

  • 2
    But the question asked for something that does NOT illuminate.
    – skymningen
    Apr 1, 2016 at 9:06

You understand that if you see the object, it is illuminating something, yes? Perhaps it is too faint to illuminate nearby objects or maybe it is non-reflective, but if we perceive the object with our eyes it must emit light.

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