Meaning of LIGHT in English

I. light 1 S1 W1 /laɪt/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ light , ↑ lighter , ↑ lighting , ↑ lightness ; adjective : ↑ light , ↑ lighted , ↑ unlit ; verb : ↑ light , ↑ lighten ; adverb : ↑ lightly , ↑ light ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: leoht ]


a) [uncountable] the energy from the Sun, a flame, a lamp etc that allows you to see things:

We saw a flash of light.

in/by the light of something

Everything looked grey in the dim light of the oil lamp.

I read by the light of the fire.

in/into the light

The man moved forward into the light.

b) [countable] a particular type of light, with its own particular colour, level of brightness etc:

The colours look different in different lights.


a) something that produces light, especially electric light, to help you to see:

Ahead of us we could see the lights of the city.

We’re having a mixture of wall lights and ceiling lights in different parts of the house.

turn/switch/put on a light

I switched on the light in the bedroom.

turn/switch/put off a light

Don’t forget to switch the lights off when you go out.

turn/switch/put out a light

Can you turn the light out downstairs?

a light is/comes/goes on

The lights in the office were still on.

The street lights were just beginning to come on.

He left a light on in the kitchen.

a light is off/out

Make sure all the lights are off when you leave.

Suddenly all the lights in the house went out.

Can you turn the light down (=make it less bright) a bit?

⇨ the bright lights at ↑ bright (13)

b) something such as a lamp that you can carry to give you light:

Shine a light over here, will you?

3 . TRAFFIC CONTROL [countable usually plural] one of a set of red, green, and yellow lights used for controlling traffic SYN traffic lights :

We waited for the lights to change.

Eventually the lights turned green.

The driver had failed to stop at a red light.

⇨ ↑ green light , ↑ red-light district

4 . ON A VEHICLE [countable usually plural] one of the lights on a car, bicycle etc that help you to see at night:

He was dazzled by the lights of oncoming traffic.

You’ve left your lights on.

⇨ ↑ brake light , ↑ headlight , ↑ parking light

5 . first light literary the time when light first appears in the morning sky:

We set out at first light the next day.

6 . be/stand in sb’s light to prevent someone from getting all the light they need to see or do something:

Could you move to the left a little – you’re standing in my light.

7 . FOR A CIGARETTE a light a match or something else to light a cigarette:

Have you got a light, please?

8 . IN SB’S EYES [singular] literary an expression in someone’s eyes that shows an emotion or intention SYN gleam :

There was a murderous light in his eyes.

9 . set light to something to make something start burning:

The candle fell over and set light to the barn.

10 . come to light/be brought to light if new information comes to light, it becomes known:

This evidence did not come to light until after the trial.

The mistake was only brought to light some years later.

11 . throw/shed/cast light on something to provide new information that makes a difficult subject or problem easier to understand:

Melanie was able to shed some light on the situation.

These discoveries may throw new light on the origins of the universe.

12 . in the light of something British English , in light of something American English if you do or decide something in the light of something else, you do it after considering that thing:

In light of this tragic event, we have canceled the 4th of July celebrations.

13 . in a new/different/bad etc light if someone or something is seen or shown in a particular light, people can see that particular part of their character:

I suddenly saw my father in a new light.

This incident will put the company in a very bad light.

14 . see the light

a) to suddenly understand something:

At last doctors have seen the light!

b) to begin to believe in a religion very strongly

15 . see the light (of day)

a) if an object sees the light of day, it is taken from the place where it has been hidden, and becomes publicly known:

Some of these documents will probably never see the light of day.

b) if a law, decision etc sees the light of day, it comes into existence for the first time

16 . light at the end of the tunnel something that gives you hope for the future after a long and difficult period:

It’s been a hard few months, but we’re finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

17 . have your name in lights informal to be successful and famous in theatre or films

18 . go/be out like a light informal to go to sleep very quickly because you are very tired:

I went straight to bed and went out like a light.

19 . a leading light in/of something informal someone who is important in a particular organization:

She’s one of the leading lights of the local dramatic society.

20 . the light of sb’s life the person that someone loves more than anyone else:

Her son was the light of her life.

21 . WINDOW [countable] a window in a roof or wall that allows light into a room

⇨ hide your light under a bushel at ↑ bushel , ⇨ be all sweetness and light at ↑ sweetness (3), ⇨ in the cold light of day at ↑ cold 1 (9)

• • •



▪ bright/strong

The light was so bright he had to shut his eyes.

▪ blinding/dazzling (=extremely bright)

The white buildings reflected a blinding light.

▪ dim (=not bright)

Gradually her eyes became accustomed to the dim light.

▪ good (=bright enough)

Stand over here where the light is good.

▪ poor/bad (=not bright enough)

The light was too poor for me to read.

▪ soft/warm (=light that seems slightly yellow or orange)

the soft light of the candles

▪ cold/harsh (=light that seems slightly blue)

the cold light of the moon

▪ the morning/dawn light

The flowers glowed brightly in the morning light.

▪ natural light (=light produced by the sun)

The only natural light came from two high windows.

▪ artificial light (=light produced by lamps)

The office was windowless, lit only by artificial light.

■ verbs

▪ light shines

The light from the streetlamp shone through the curtains.

▪ light comes from somewhere

The only light came from the fire.

▪ light streams/floods in (=a large amount of light comes in)

Light streamed in through the window.

▪ light falls on/across etc something

The light fell on her book.

▪ light illuminates something formal (=makes it bright or able to be seen)

The light from the screen illuminated the people gathered round it.

▪ the light is fading (=it is getting darker as the sun is going down)

▪ produce light ( also emit light technical )

the light produced by the sun

▪ cast light (=send light onto something)

the gold circle of light cast by the lamp

▪ reflect light

Snow reflects a lot of light.

▪ something is bathed in light literary (=something has a lot of light shining on it)

The fields and woods were bathed in golden light.

■ phrases

▪ a beam/ray/shaft of light (=a thin line of light)

There was a shaft of light from the doorway.

▪ a flash of light (=a bright light that appears suddenly for a very short time)

A flash of light caught his attention.

▪ a pool/circle of light (=an area of light)

They stood in the pool of light cast by the streetlamp.

• • •

THESAURUS (for Meaning 2)

▪ light something that produces light, especially electric light, to help you to see:

She switched the kitchen light on.


The lights in the house were all off.

▪ lamp an object that produces light by using electricity, oil, or gas - often used in names of lights:

a bedside lamp


a street lamp


a desk lamp


a table lamp


an old oil lamp


a paraffin lamp

▪ lantern a lamp that you can carry, consisting of a metal container with glass sides that surrounds a flame or light:

The miners used lanterns which were lit by candles.

▪ torch British English , flashlight American English a small electric lamp that you carry in your hand:

We shone our torches around the cavern.

▪ candle a stick of wax with a string through the middle, which you burn to give light:

The restaurant was lit by candles.

▪ bulb the glass part of an electric light, that the light shines from:

a 100 watt bulb


an energy-saving light bulb

■ on a car

▪ headlight ( also headlamp ) one of the two large lights at the front of a vehicle:

It was getting dark so she switched the headlights on.

▪ sidelight British English , parking light American English one of the two small lights next to the main lights, at the front and back of a car

▪ tail light one of the two red lights at the back of a vehicle

▪ indicator British English , turn signal American English one of the lights on a car that flash to show which way the car is turning

II. light 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE adjective ( comparative lighter , superlative lightest )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ light , ↑ lighter , ↑ lighting , ↑ lightness ; adjective : ↑ light , ↑ lighted , ↑ unlit ; verb : ↑ light , ↑ lighten ; adverb : ↑ lightly , ↑ light ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: leoht ]

1 . COLOUR a light colour is pale and not dark:

You look nice in light colours.

light blue/green/grey etc

She had blue eyes and light brown hair.

I wanted a lighter yellow paint for the walls.

2 . DAYLIGHT it is/gets light if it is light, there is the natural light of day OPP dark :

We’ll keep on looking while it’s still light.

It was seven o'clock and just starting to get light.

3 . ROOMS a room that is light has plenty of light in it, especially from the sun OPP dark :

The kitchen was light and spacious.

The office was a big light room at the back of the house.

4 .

NOT HEAVY not very heavy:

You can carry this bag – it’s fairly light.

You should wear light, comfortable shoes.

The truck was quite light and easy to drive.

She was as light as a feather (=very light) to carry.

⇨ ↑ lighten , ↑ lightweight 2

5 . NOT GREAT if something is light, there is not very much of it or it is not very great OPP heavy :

Traffic is lighter before 8 a.m.

A light rain began to fall.

She was wearing only light make-up.

people who have suffered only light exposure to radiation

6 . CLOTHES light clothes are thin and not very warm:

She took a light sweater in case the evening was cool.

a light summer coat

7 . WIND a light wind is blowing without much force OPP strong :

Leaves were blowing about in the light wind.

There was a light easterly breeze.

8 . SOUND a light sound is very quiet OPP loud :

There was a light tap at the door.

Her voice was light and pleasant.

9 . TOUCH a light touch is gentle and soft:

She gave him a light kiss on the cheek.

He felt a light tap on his shoulder.

10 . WORK/EXERCISE light work is not hard or tiring:

I found him some light work to do.

She only has a few light duties around the house.

The doctor has advised me to take regular light exercise.

11 . FOOD

a) food or drink that is light either does not have a strong taste or does not make you feel full very quickly, for example because it does not contain very much fat, sugar, or alcohol OPP rich :

We had a light white wine with the fish.

a light, refreshing dessert

a new light cheese spread with virtually no fat

b) a light meal is a small meal OPP big :

I had a light lunch in town.

a delicious light snack

c) food that is light contains a lot of air:

a type of light, sweet bread

Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy.

12 . PUNISHMENT a light punishment is not very severe OPP harsh :

a fairly light sentence

13 . a light smoker/drinker/eater etc someone who does not smoke etc very much

14 . light sleep/doze a sleep from which you wake up easily:

I fell into a light sleep.

15 . a light sleeper someone who wakes up easily if there is any noise etc:

She’s quite a light sleeper.

16 . NOT SERIOUS not serious in meaning, style, or manner, and only intended to entertain people:

His speech gradually became lighter in tone.

an evening of light music

It’s a really good book if you want a bit of light reading.

The show looks at some of the lighter moments from the world of politics.

17 . light relief something that is pleasant and amusing after something sad or serious:

I’m glad you’ve arrived – we could all do with a little light relief!

18 . make light of something to joke about something or treat it as not being very serious, especially when it is important:

She tried to make light of the situation, but I could tell that she was worried.

19 . on a lighter note/in a lighter vein used when you are going to say something less sad or serious:

On a lighter note, the concert raised over £300 for school funds.

20 . make light work of something to do something or deal with something quickly and easily:

A freezer and microwave oven can make light work of cooking.

21 . be light on your feet to be able to move quickly and gracefully:

She’s very agile and light on her feet.

22 . a light heart literary someone who has a light heart feels happy and not worried:

I set off for work with a light heart.

⇨ ↑ light-hearted

23 . SOIL light soil is easy to break into small pieces OPP heavy :

Carrots grow well in light soils.

—lightness noun [uncountable] :

a lightness of touch

III. light 3 S2 W3 BrE AmE verb ( past tense and past participle lit or lighted )

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ light , ↑ lighter , ↑ lighting , ↑ lightness ; adjective : ↑ light , ↑ lighted , ↑ unlit ; verb : ↑ light , ↑ lighten ; adverb : ↑ lightly , ↑ light ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: lihtan ]

1 . [intransitive and transitive] to start to burn, or to make something start to burn:

He stopped to light a cigarette.

I lit the fire and poured a drink.

I couldn’t get the candles to light.

2 . [transitive usually passive] to provide light for a place:

The room was lit by one large, central light.

The porch is always well lit at night.

The kitchen was warm and brightly lit.

a poorly lit car park

3 . light the/sb’s way to provide light for someone while they are going somewhere:

We had only a few torches between us to light the way.

light on/upon something phrasal verb literary

1 . to notice or find something by chance:

His eye lit on a ruby ring.

I thought I might have lit upon an ancient manuscript.

2 . if a bird or insect lights on something, it stops flying and stands on it

light out phrasal verb American English informal

to run away, especially because you are afraid

light up phrasal verb

1 . light something ↔ up to give light to a place or to shine light on something:

The flames lit up the sky.

The fountain is lit up at night.

2 . to become bright with light or colour:

At night the harbour lights up.

As the screen lit up, he typed in his password.

3 .

a) if someone’s face or eyes light up, they show pleasure, excitement etc

light up with

His eyes lit up with laughter.

Her face lit up with pleasure.

b) light something ↔ up to make someone’s face or eyes show pleasure or excitement:

Suddenly a smile lit up her face.

A mischievous gleam lit up her eyes.

4 . informal to light a cigarette:

I watched Paul light up again.

IV. light 4 BrE AmE adverb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ light , ↑ lighter , ↑ lighting , ↑ lightness ; adjective : ↑ light , ↑ lighted , ↑ unlit ; verb : ↑ light , ↑ lighten ; adverb : ↑ lightly , ↑ light ]

⇨ travel light at ↑ travel 1 (1)

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.