- the descent of the uterus into the pelvic cavity, occurring toward the end of pregnancy, changing the contour of the abdomen and facilitating breathing by lessening pressure under the diaphragm.
Origin of lightening
- to become lighter or less dark; brighten: The sky lightened after the storm.
- to brighten or light up, as the eyes or features: Her face lightened when she heard the good news.
- to flash as or like lightning (often used impersonally with it as subject): It thundered and lightened for hours.
- Archaic. to shine, gleam, or be bright: steel blades lightening in the sun.
- to give light to; illuminate: A full moon lightened the road.
- to brighten (the eyes, features, etc.): A large smile lightened his face.
- to make lighter or less dark: Add white to lighten the paint.
- Obsolete. enlighten.
- Obsolete. to flash or emit like lightning (usually followed by out, forth, or down): eyes that lightened forth implacable hatred.
Origin of lighten1
- to make lighter in weight: to lighten the load on a truck.
- to lessen the load of or upon: to lighten a cargo ship.
- to make less burdensome or oppressive; alleviate; mitigate: to lighten taxes; to lighten someone's cares.
- to cheer or gladden: Such news lightens my heart.
- to become less severe, stringent, or harsh; ease up: Border inspections have lightened recently.
- to become less heavy, cumbersome, burdensome, oppressive, etc.: His worries seem to have lightened somewhat.
- to become less gloomy; perk up: People's spirits usually lighten when spring arrives.
Origin of lighten2
SynonymsSee more synonyms for lighten on Thesaurus.com
3. ease, lessen, reduce.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for lightening
In recent times, Zwarte Piet has become a lightening rod for issues of Dutch identity and multicultural tolerance.Amsterdam’s Racist Black Pete Parade Under Fire
November 11, 2013
He believes that the plane was hit by a bolt of lightening and went down in deep water.Missoni Family: Chance He’s Alive
Barbie Latza Nadeau
January 9, 2013
Buckling down to tie-up loose ends is key to lightening your mental load.The Stars Predict Your Week
Starsky + Cox
October 9, 2011
By five in the morning, the sky was lightening, and we trudged back toward Christopher Street, where I could catch a train home.The Amazing Superheroes of New York City
August 7, 2011
The changing, lightening gravity on the incline caught them.
But the lapse of time brought some relief and a lightening of their depression.The Carroll Girls
The girl looked at her with a lightening of her amiable, indifferent air.Miss Pat at Artemis Lodge
He shot his hands into the air with the lightening vivacity that was in him a sort of wit.The Coast of Chance
The artist explained that "Light is as important as lightening."The Civilization of Illiteracy
- obstetrics the sensation, experienced by many women late in pregnancy when the head of the fetus enters the pelvis, of a reduction in pressure on the diaphragm, making it easier to breathe
- to become or make light
- (intr) to shine; glow
- (intr) (of lightning) to flash
- (tr) an archaic word for enlighten
- to make or become less heavy
- to make or become less burdensome or oppressive; mitigate
- to make or become more cheerful or lively
Word Origin and History for lightening
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- The sensation of decreased abdominal distention during the latter weeks of pregnancy following the descent of the fetal head into the pelvic inlet.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.