What Is a Lucifer?
“Lucifer” is a slang name for a match, made usually of a splint of wood tipped with an inflammable substance which ignites when the match is struck on a prepared surface. The wood comes from Latin and means “light-bringing”. It has been used in poetry as a name for the morning star, the planet Venus, when it appears in the sky before sunrise.
As a name for the morning star, “Lucifer” is a proper name. In the Greco-Roman civilization the morning star was also personified and considered a pagan god. It is also found in the Bible, where the fall of the King of Babylon is described in these words:
“How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning.”
Early members of the Christian Church interpreted the words of Jesus—“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”—as a reference to this passage in Isaiah. So Lucifer came to be regarded as the name of Satan before his fall.
John Milton (1608-1674), in his poem Paradise Lost, gave the name Lucifer to the rebel arch-angel whose overweening pride made him seek to dethrone God himself—a sin perpetuated in the phrase “As proud as Lucifer”.