Definition of candle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkand(ə)l/


1A cylinder or block of wax or tallow with a central wick which is lit to produce light as it burns: the candle flickered in the cold night air an iced cake with nine lighted candles on it
More example sentences
  • Light candles and burn oils to create a restful and tranquil environment.
  • She produces a lighter and the single candle on the table flickers into life alongside the vase of white flowers
  • Winstanley climbed up to the lantern and lit a dozen tallow candles.
taper, sconce;
tallow candle, wax candle, Christmas candle, votary candle, paschal candle
rare bougie, cierge
2 (also international candle) Physics A unit of luminous intensity, superseded by the candela.
Example sentences
  • The intensity of a 60-watt lamp is very nearly 60 candles.
  • The unit of light intensity in the USA, England and France is the international candle.
  • The abscissae give the brilliance measured in international candles per square millimetre.


[with object]
(Of a poultry breeder) test (an egg) for freshness or fertility by holding it to the light: the egg was candled—it was fertile
More example sentences
  • He candled the eggs - checking them against a flame for defects - and took deliveries, but left grammar school with no wish to join the business.
  • We found nests during incubation, and estimated the hatching date by candling eggs.
  • Eggs were candled to determine incubation stage, and laying dates were calculated by backdating.



be able to hold a candle to

[with negative] informal Be nearly as good as: nobody in the final could hold a candle to her
More example sentences
  • At that time, Ric couldn't hold a candle to what they were doing.
  • He dropped out of school at 16 because books couldn't hold a candle to golf and began studying visiting professionals.
  • I'd return the favor but you know I couldn't hold a candle to you.

the game's not worth the candle

The potential advantages to be gained from doing something do not justify the cost or trouble involved: she may decide the game’s not worth the candle and walk away from the discussions they may find that aggressive expansion is not worth the candle
More example sentences
  • What Lindsay Anderson called poetic naturalism, or what we're trying to accomplish - dense, indicative realism presented as a collage - is easily dismissed as not worth the candle.
  • I've always thought that if you have to work at it and you're not happy, it's not worth the candle.
  • Mr Curry reckons that the minor powers on offer to the mini-parliaments are not worth the candle, so people of Yorkshire and elsewhere should vote against it.



Example sentences
  • Eggs to be examined for hatching success were candled by using a portable candler at both the mid-stage and late-stage of parental incubation to determine embryo developmental stage and viability.
  • An egg candler can be purchased, or a flashlight can be used.
  • In previous studies of waterfowl, we used field candlers to age embryos in eggs because candlers are a rapid, simple, and accurate method.


Old English candel, from Latin candela, from candere 'be white or glisten'.

  • Old English candel came from Latin candela, from candere ‘to be white, shine, glisten’ ( compare candid). From the same source comes chandelier (mid 18th century) from Old French chandelier which also gave Middle English chandler, originally a candle maker or seller. A person who cannot hold a candle to someone else is nowhere near as good as them. In the past an assistant might stand next to his superior with a candle to provide light to work by, and so the idea of holding a candle to someone became synonymous with helping them as a subordinate or in a menial way. Not worth the candle originated as a translation of the French phrase le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle, ‘the game is not worth the candle’. The ‘game’ was a game of cards involving betting, and would not be worth playing if the expense of candles to provide light was more than the expected winnings.

Words that rhyme with candle

Coromandel, dandle, Handel, handle, mishandle, Randall, sandal, scandal, vandal

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: can¦dle

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