Word of the Day


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a tower built next to the sea that has a powerful flashing light at the top to show ships where to go or to warn them of danger

Origin and usage

Lighthouse is a combination of the words ‘light’, from the Proto-Indo-European root ‘leuk’ meaning ‘brightness’, and ‘house’, from the Proto-Germanic ‘husan’ meaning ‘dwelling’. As it refers to a structure built on rock near the sea used in ship navigation, the word lighthouse in English dates back to the 1620s.


The word lighthouse refers to a tall tower built near the sea that is used to help ships navigate. A lighthouse has a strong, powerful lamp at the top with a very bright light that casts a beam that can be seen for miles. Many lighthouses also have a loud foghorn that is used in bad weather when the light might be hard to see. Lighthouses are used all over the world to warn ships of dangerous rocks or shallow waters.

Lighthouses are often remarkable structures with lots of history. Some of the most unique lighthouses in the world include:
• Tower of Hercules (Spain): The world’s oldest lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules was built in the 2nd century by the Romans and stands at an impressive 180 feet tall.
• Creac’h Lighthouse (France): This lighthouse guides ships into the English Channel along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. Its powerful light beam can be seen from 32 miles away and its foghorn can be heard from nearly 20 miles away.
• Jeddah Light (Saudi Arabia): Standing over 430 feet, this is the world’s tallest lighthouse. In addition to guiding ships with its light, the Jeddah Light also has an observation deck and port control tower.


“She is like a revolving lighthouse; pitch darkness alternating with a dazzling brilliancy!”
(Henry James)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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