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[hed-lahyt] /ˈhɛdˌlaɪt/
a light or lamp, usually equipped with a reflector, on the front of an automobile, locomotive, etc.
Origin of headlight
An Americanism dating back to 1860-65; head + light1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for headlights
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They were following a kind of road when headlights bore down on them.

    Police Your Planet Lester del Rey
  • Then Nuwell switched on the headlights and they went on again.

    Rebels of the Red Planet Charles Louis Fontenay
  • Asabri drove toward Rome, his headlights piercing the darkness.

    IT and Other Stories Gouverneur Morris
  • Muldoon's figure was outlined in the glow of the headlights.

    Lease to Doomsday Lee Archer
  • Tires crunched on the gravel then, and headlights washed the darkness from the drive.

    Star Mother Robert F. Young
British Dictionary definitions for headlights


a powerful light, equipped with a reflector and attached to the front of a motor vehicle, locomotive, etc See also quartz-iodine lamp
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for headlights



1861, originally of ships and locomotives, from head (n.) + light (n.). Related: Headlights, which, as slang for "a woman's breasts," is from 1940s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for headlights



  1. The eyes (1920s+ Prizefight)
  2. A woman's breasts (1940s+)



  1. A light-skinned black person (1950s+ Black)
  2. A large diamond, esp in a ring or clasp: A lurid ''headlight'' in his tie (1940s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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