- a long, usually slender piece of tallow or wax with an embedded wick that is burned to give light.
- something resembling a candle in appearance or use.
- (formerly) candela.
- Also called international candle.a unit of luminous intensity, defined as a fraction of the luminous intensity of a group of 45 carbon-filament lamps: used from 1909 to 1948 as the international standard.
- a unit of luminous intensity, equal to the luminous intensity of a wax candle of standard specifications: used prior to 1909 as the international standard. Abbreviation: c., c
verb (used with object), can·dled, can·dling.
- to examine (eggs) for freshness, fertility, etc., by holding them up to a bright light.
- to hold (a bottle of wine) in front of a lighted candle while decanting so as to detect sediment and prevent its being poured off with the wine.
- burn the/one’s candle at both ends. burn1(def 54).
- hold a candle to, to compare favorably with (usually used in the negative): She’s smart, but she can’t hold a candle to her sister.
- worth the candle, worth the trouble or effort involved (usually used in the negative): Trying to win them over to your viewpoint is not worth the candle.
- a cylindrical piece of wax, tallow, or other fatty substance surrounding a wick, which is burned to produce light
- burn the candle at both ends to exhaust oneself, esp by being up late and getting up early to work
- not hold a candle to informal to be inferior or contemptible in comparison withyour dog doesn’t hold a candle to mine
- not worth the candle informal not worth the price or trouble entailed (esp in the phrase the game’s not worth the candle)
- (tr) to examine (eggs) for freshness or the likelihood of being hatched by viewing them against a bright light
Old English candel “lamp, lantern, candle,” an early ecclesiastical borrowing from Latin candela “a light, torch, candle made of tallow or wax,” from candere “to shine,” from PIE root *kand- “to glow, to shine, to shoot out light” (cf. Sanskrit cand- “to give light, shine,” candra- “shining, glowing, moon;” Greek kandaros “coal;” Welsh cann “white;” Middle Irish condud “fuel”).
Candles were unknown in ancient Greece (where oil lamps sufficed), but common from early times among Romans and Etruscans. Candles on birthday cakes seems to have been originally a German custom. To hold a candle to originally meant “to help in a subordinate capacity,” from the notion of an assistant or apprentice holding a candle for light while the master works. To burn the candle at both ends is recorded from 1730.
see burn the candle at both ends; game is not worth the candle; hold a candle to.