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    English word for "Leuchte": Is "luminary" possible or completely wrong?


    English word for "Leuchte": Is "luminary" possible or completely wrong?



    I am proofreading some light industry documents and am searching for the correct English term for "Leuchte".

    I have documents in front of me where both "luminaire" and "luminary" are used.

    In my opinion only "luminaire" is correct and I would like to change all "luminaries" to "luminaires".

    But there is a tiny bit of insecurity that the entry "der Beleuchtungskörper" from Siehe Wörterbuch: luminary could mean that "luminary" is also possible.

    So, the question is this:

    Can I savely say that "luminary" is wrong in that context and can and should be corrected to "luminaire"?

    Has it probably only been used as a "false friend" because of its similarity?

    Or is there any kind of constraint like "in this or that variety of English it can indeed also be used like this"?

    (The question is *not* about other possible translations for "Leuchte" like e.g. "lamp", "light fixture" or such, just about these two very similar words.)

    VerfasserHansKalt (1362808) 03 Aug. 22, 18:42
    I don't know which is more common in industry, but the OED2 lists both as possible:

    orig. U.S.
    An electric light and its fittings; such a lighting unit.
    1972 Henderson & Marsden Lamps & Lighting xix. 341 Luminaires can be divided into two categories: those which are essentially decorative and those which are essentially functional. Decorative luminaires are usually in the form of an assembly of decorative components around a light source, ranging from a simple pendant to the large‥prestige chandelier.
    1973 Times 1 Feb. 22/8 It is preposterous for BSI to force luminaires upon us.

    2. An artificial light
    1892 Stevenson Across the Plains 213 [They] began to garnish their windows with our particular brand of luminary.

    savely -> safely

    Edit: Here is an interesting discussion about the use of luminaire (a word which my spell checker thinks is misspelled!):

    #1Verfasserpatman2 (527865)  04 Aug. 22, 00:56
    Hans, my gut feeling is the same as your opinion. A luminaire could be a light fixture, but a luminary should be a famous person. (And a luminaria is a candle in a bag at Christmas ...)

    However, I can't prove that someone in some obscure corner of the lighting industry wouldn't use 'luminary' to mean a light fixture, so I'm not sure that's enough help.
    #2Verfasserhm -- us (236141) 04 Aug. 22, 07:33

    DIN 5039:1995-09

    Licht, Lampen, Leuchten - Begriffe, Einteilung

    Englischer Titel

    Light, lamps, luminaires - Definitions, survey


    #3VerfasserCM2DD (236324) 04 Aug. 22, 08:47

    Im Nizzaer Abkommen über die Einteilung von Waren und Dienstleistungen für Markenregistrierungen können die "Leuchten" aus Klasse 11 "luminaries" oder "luminaires" heißen.

    Wenn Markenrechte dahinterstehen, wäre es jedenfalls nicht unbedingt notwendig, die Schreibweise zu ändern. Wenn du mir den Namen der Firma per PN verrätst, kann ich dir auch nachsehen, welche englische Schreibweise sie in ihren internationalen Markenanmeldungen verwendet - sofern sie welche hat. :-)

    #4Verfassertigger (236106) 04 Aug. 22, 09:36

    I've done a couple of jobs a lighting manufacturer. They came with the client's own glossary that gave Leuchte = luminaire. Haven't ever come across luminary in this context but my experience of the field isn't exactly extensive.

    #5VerfasserMaisie (1354450) 04 Aug. 22, 09:39

    Thanks for all the answers.

    hm -- us 

    My feeling is like yours that "luminary" is rather not used but that it is almost impossible to prove that.


    Similar experience: I never thought about "luminary" until recently when suddenly I heard it for the first time.


    Interesting link. The thread also shows some of the difficulties involved (British vs. American, everyday language vs. correct terms, "never heard" != not correct).

    At least, noone mentioned "luminary" there. ;-)

    The main information that I get from the Oxford English Dictionary quote is that "luminaire" has the definition I am looking for but "luminary" not. I wouldn't consider "artificial light" as a precise enough description for "luminaire".


    Yes, consulting a standards' expert is always a good idea because that is the truth that counts, sort of.


    Okay, ein anderer Aspekt. Aber, nein, um registrierte Marken geht es nicht.

    #6VerfasserHansKalt (1362808)  04 Aug. 22, 12:48

    Luminaire is clearly sometimes used in technical contexts. But how standard is it? The fact that I didn't know the word doesn't prove much. But when I googled, I got only 181 hits altogether, including dictionary entries, proper nouns (company and product names), and others in foreign languages, including a number in Indonesian concerning some kind of sport or game. Patman's examples are pretty old. Maybe it's better to use either "lamp" or "light fixture" (depending on the items), or else the general term "lighting unit."

    #7Verfassermabr (598108) 05 Aug. 22, 16:57

    BS EN IEC 62722-2-1. Luminaire Performance

    Part 2-1. Particular requirements for LED luminaires

    By British Standards Institution · 2021


    #7 "Luminaire"? Did you spell it right, or maybe have something else in the search results? I get pages and pages of results on a 21st-century book search alone.

    #8VerfasserCM2DD (236324)  05 Aug. 22, 17:21


    patman's examples are old, but the info in the wikipedia link could be seen as an explanation why "luminaire" is used and not "light fitting"...

    "Light fixture is US usage; in British English it is called a light fitting. However, luminaire is the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) terminology for technical use."

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_fixture

    The term "lamp" is another story. In everyday language it is often used as an equivalent to "luminaire" but technically that is not correct.

    #9VerfasserHansKalt (1362808) 09 Aug. 22, 11:57

    Gleich wie auf Deutsch, Lampe und Leuchte sind nicht dasselbe. :-)

    #10Verfassertigger (236106) 09 Aug. 22, 12:02
    Patman's examples are pretty old (#7)

    The examples are old because they were taken from the OED, which does not systematically update references. That does not mean there aren't more recent examples. They, however, are only added when an entry is revised, as explained in the FAQ entry below:

    Why are there no recent illustrative quotations for many words in common use?

    If an entry goes back to the first edition of the OED (1884-1928) the quotation evidence will reflect the material available to the editors at the time of writing, and can be surprisingly close to the date of publication. Extra evidence was added to some entries during work on the OED Supplement (published 1972-86), but many entries written for the Supplement are now also in need of updating. As we revise the text we always add later evidence when it is available. If it is not, we may need to consider adding an Obsolete label. We do this when we have failed to find usage evidence later than 1900. Contributors have been sending us postdatings for over a century now, and all this material is in our files ready for use by the revisers.

    Link to FAQ:
    #11Verfasserpatman2 (527865) 09 Aug. 22, 23:06

    "Light fixture is US usage; in British English it is called a light fitting. However, luminaire is the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) terminology for technical use."

    I would just like to highlight that Wikipedia quote, which suggests several changes that could and probably should be made in LEO.

    'Light fitting' could be added for BE, and 'light fixture' (which is what I would normally use) could be marked AE.

    Above all, 'luminaire' should surely be marked [formal] and [technical], if not indeed rare. In AE at least, in my experience, no ordinary person, even probably a builder or contractor, would be likely to use that word in normal conversation. So even if you might find it in some kind of technical description, there should be some marking in LEO to warn German speakers to avoid it in texts meant for the general public.

    #12Verfasserhm -- us (236141) 10 Aug. 22, 06:35

    re #10 et.al. :


     Lampe, Leuchte, Leuchtmittel - Was ist der Unterschied?

     .. Lampen, Leuchten, Leuchtmittel – im allgemeinen Sprachgebrauch werden die Begriffe oft synonym verwendet. Das hat sich zwar so etabliert, ist aber im Grunde falsch. Um Sie nicht noch mehr zu verwirren, geben wir Ihnen gleich zu Beginn die Auflösung der Frage:

    „Lampe“ meint von der Grundbedeutung her das Leuchtmittel, also die Lichtquelle, ohne die wir im Dunkeln stehen würden, z. B. LED-Lampe, Vintage-Lampe, Energiesparlampe, Glühlampe.

    „Leuchte“ meint das gesamte Lichtobjekt, bestehend aus dem leuchtenden Element und dem Körper, bestehend aus Lampenfassung, Lampensockel, Lampenschirm und Co. | Korrekterweise sollten Sie diesen Begriff verwenden, wenn Sie über Lampenarten reden, z. B. über Deckenleuchten, Innenleuchten, Außenleuchten, Wohnzimmerleuchten.

    „Leuchtmittel“ meint die Lichtquelle, also das, was viele noch „Glühbirne“ nennen. Der Begriff Leuchtmittel wird heute oft in Kombination mit der entsprechenden Lichttechnik verwendet | z. B. LED-Leuchtmittel, Halogen-Leuchtmittel oder Energiespar-Leuchtmittel. ...

     ... Sie erkennen: Die Terme „Lampe“ und „Leuchte“ werden zwar oft als Synonym füreinander verwendet – eigentlich sind aber „Lampe“ und „Leuchtmittel“ die beiden Terme, die synonym verwendet werden können. ...

     ... Es wird vermutet, dass die Namensgebung der „Glühlampe“ dafür verantwortlich ist, dass dem Wort „Lampe“ bis heute verschiedene Bedeutungen beigemessen werden. Gemeint ist mit der „Glühlampe“ nämlich das Leuchtmittel/die Lichtquelle. Statt für „Glühleuchtmittel“, entschied man sich bei der Namensgebung der künstlichen Lichtquelle aber für „Glühlampe“. ...

    ... Graphik dazu aus dem Link https://www.bilder-hochladen.net/files/big/im...

    #13Verfasserno me bré (700807) 10 Aug. 22, 09:08
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