Is there a word given to the phenomenon that occurs when the intensity of a candle or star fluctuates at random?

  • Maybe the candle/star is glittering or twinkling. Apr 23, 2014 at 19:55
  • 4
    Candles flicker. Stars twinkle. Apr 23, 2014 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


A star, as seen from Earth, is said to twinkle.

Twinkle, twinkle little star...

A candle will flicker.

I see the candle flicker in the window.

They are somewhat interchangeable but these parings are the most common.

  • 5
    +1 for the most common words, but to add some detail: small points of lights that vary in intensity quickly twinkle (e.g. stars, the skyline of a distant city); lights of all sizes can flicker at all speeds (e.g. matches, campfires, fluorescent lamps, a distant bushfire). Additionally, to sparkle is to emit flashes of bright light, whereas to glimmer is to glow with an unsteady dim light, as of dying coals in a fire. Shimmer and glitter usually indicate reflected light, the former especially from a wet surface and the latter from a faceted one.
    – choster
    Apr 23, 2014 at 22:56
  • If you like long words the term for a star is scintillation.
    – QuentinUK
    Apr 24, 2014 at 0:35

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