Word of the Day


© Macmillan Education/ Natalie Dawkins


a stick of wax with a string in it called a wick that you burn to give light

Origin and usage

Candle comes from an Old English word ‘candel’ which came from the Latin ‘candela’, from ‘candere’, to be white or glisten. It has been in use since the 8th century; one early citation is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a history of the Anglo-Saxons that dates back to the 9th century.


Candles have been in use in many parts of the world since at least 500 BC. They have been made from a wide range of materials, including various types of animal fat, beeswax and various vegetable oils. These days most candles are made of paraffin wax, which is produced when petroleum is refined, although many still regard beeswax as the finest material for making candles. Whereas for many centuries candles were an essential source of light, these days for most people they are a pleasant addition to or substitute for electric light, especially on dark winter evenings.


My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!
(Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Related words

flare, lamp, taper

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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