S: NASA – http://thunder.msfc.nasa.gov/primer/ (last access: 30 June 2015)
N: 1. late 13c., present participle of lightnen “make bright,” extended form of Old English lihting, from leht. Meaning “cheap, raw whiskey” is attested from 1781, also sometimes “gin.” Lightning bug is attested from 1778. Lightning rod from 1790.
2. Luminous manifestation accompanying a sudden electrical discharge which takes place from or inside a cloud or, less often, from high structures on the ground or from mountains.
3. Lightning is a natural, transient, high-current electrical discharge occurring in the atmosphere. … The total discharge occurrence is called a flash. The typical lightning flash is composed of three to four high-current pulses called strokes.
4. During a thunderstorm, a lightning flash can occur within a cloud, between clouds, between a cloud and air, or from cloud to ground.
5. Cultural Interrelation: Related to Native American Mythology, we can mention the thunderbird, an enormous bird (according to many Northwestern tribes, large enough to carry a killer whale in its talons as an eagle carries a fish) who is responsible for the sound of thunder (and in some cases lightning as well).
S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=lightning (last access: 30 June 2015). 2. METEOTERM/IMV/WMO (last access: 30 June 2015). 3 & 4. TERMIUMPLUS. 5. http://www.native-languages.org/thunderbird.htm (last access: 3 July 2015).