See more synonyms for lighter on

Origin of lighter

First recorded in 1545–55; light1 + -er1
Can be confusedletter lighter liter litter


  1. a large, open, flat-bottomed barge, used in unloading and loading ships offshore or in transporting goods for short distances in shallow waters.
verb (used with object)
  1. to convey in or as if in a lighter.

Origin of lighter

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at light3, -er1


  1. something that makes things visible or affords illumination: All colors depend on light.
  2. Physics.
    1. Also called luminous energy, radiant energy.electromagnetic radiation to which the organs of sight react, ranging in wavelength from about 400 to 700 nm and propagated at a speed of 186,282 mi./sec (299,972 km/sec), considered variously as a wave, corpuscular, or quantum phenomenon.
    2. a similar form of radiant energy that does not affect the retina, as ultraviolet or infrared rays.
  3. the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of sight.
  4. an illuminating agent or source, as the sun, a lamp, or a beacon.
  5. the radiance or illumination from a particular source: the light of a candle.
  6. the illumination from the sun; daylight: We awoke at the first light.
  7. daybreak or dawn: when light appeared in the east.
  8. daytime: Summer has more hours of light.
  9. a particular light or illumination in which an object seen takes on a certain appearance: viewing the portrait in dim light.
  10. a device for or means of igniting, as a spark, flame, or match: Could you give me a light?
  11. a traffic light: Don't cross till the light changes.
  12. the aspect in which a thing appears or is regarded: Try to look at the situation in a more cheerful light.
  13. the state of being visible, exposed to view, or revealed to public notice or knowledge; limelight: Stardom has placed her in the light.
  14. a person who is an outstanding leader, celebrity, or example; luminary: He became one of the leading lights of Restoration drama.
  15. Art.
    1. the effect of light falling on an object or scene as represented in a picture.
    2. one of the brightest parts of a picture.
  16. a gleam or sparkle, as in the eyes.
  17. a measure or supply of light; illumination: The wall cuts off our light.
  18. spiritual illumination or awareness; enlightenment.
  19. Architecture.
    1. Also called compartment of a window or window sash.
    2. a window, especially a small one.
  20. mental insight; understanding.
  21. lights, the information, ideas, or mental capacities possessed: to act according to one's lights.
  22. a lighthouse.
  23. Archaic. the eyesight.
adjective, light·er, light·est.
  1. having light or illumination; bright; well-lighted: the lightest room in the entire house.
  2. pale, whitish, or not deep or dark in color: a light blue.
  3. (of coffee or tea) containing enough milk or cream to produce a light color.
verb (used with object), light·ed or lit, light·ing.
  1. to set burning, as a candle, lamp, fire, match, or cigarette; kindle; ignite.
  2. to turn or switch on (an electric light): One flick of the master switch lights all the lamps in the room.
  3. to give light to; furnish with light or illumination: The room is lighted by two large chandeliers.
  4. to make (an area or object) bright with or as if with light (often followed by up): Hundreds of candles lighted up the ballroom.
  5. to cause (the face, surroundings, etc.) to brighten, especially with joy, animation, or the like (often followed by up): A smile lit up her face. Her presence lighted up the room.
  6. to guide or conduct with a light: a candle to light you to bed.
verb (used without object), light·ed or lit, light·ing.
  1. to take fire or become kindled: The damp wood refused to light.
  2. to ignite a cigar, cigarette, or pipe for purposes of smoking (usually followed by up): He took out a pipe and lighted up before speaking.
  3. to become illuminated when switched on: This table lamp won't light.
  4. to become bright, as with light or color (often followed by up): The sky lights up at sunset.
  5. to brighten with animation or joy, as the face or eyes (often followed by up).
  1. bring to light, to discover or reveal: The excavations brought to light the remnants of an ancient civilization.
  2. come to light, to be discovered or revealed: Some previously undiscovered letters have lately come to light.
  3. hide one's light under a bushel, to conceal or suppress one's talents or successes.
  4. in a good/bad light, under favorable (or unfavorable) circumstances: She worshiped him, but then she'd only seen him in a good light.
  5. in (the) light of, taking into account; because of; considering: It was necessary to review the decision in the light of recent developments.
  6. light at the end of the tunnel, a prospect of success, relief, or redemption: We haven't solved the problem yet, but we're beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
  7. see the light,
    1. to come into existence or being.
    2. to be made public.
    3. to begin to accept or understand a point of view one formerly opposed: Her father was opposed to her attending an out-of-town college, but he finally saw the light.
  8. shed/throw light on, to clarify; clear up: His deathbed confession threw light on a mystery of long standing.

Origin of light

before 900; (noun and adj.) Middle English; Old English lēoht; cognate with Old Saxon lioht, Old Frisian liacht, Dutch, German licht, Gothic liuhath (noun); akin to Old Norse ljōs (noun), ljōss (adj.), Latin lūx (noun), Greek leukós bright, white; (v.) Middle English lighten, Old English līhtan, cognate with Old Saxon liuhtian, Old High German liuhten (German leuchten), Gothic liuhtjan
Related formslight·ful, adjectivelight·ful·ly, adverb


adjective, light·er, light·est.
  1. of little weight; not heavy: a light load.
  2. of little weight in proportion to bulk; of low specific gravity: a light metal.
  3. of less than the usual or average weight: light clothing.
  4. weighing less than the proper or standard amount: to be caught using light weights in trade.
  5. of small amount, force, intensity, etc.: light trading on the stock market; a light rain; light sleep.
  6. using or applying little or slight pressure or force: The child petted the puppy with light, gentle strokes.
  7. not distinct; faint: The writing on the page had become light and hard to read.
  8. easy to endure, deal with, or perform; not difficult or burdensome: light duties.
  9. not very profound or serious; amusing or entertaining: light reading.
  10. of little importance or consequence; trivial: The loss of his job was no light matter.
  11. easily digested: light food.
  12. low in any substance, as sugar, starch, or tars, that is considered harmful or undesirable: light cigarettes.
  13. (of alcoholic beverages)
    1. not heavy or strong: a light apéritif.
    2. (especially of beer and wine) having fewer calories and usually a lower alcohol content than the standard product.
  14. spongy or well-leavened, as cake.
  15. (of soil) containing much sand; porous or crumbly.
  16. slender or delicate in form or appearance: a light, graceful figure.
  17. airy or buoyant in movement: When she dances, she's as light as a feather.
  18. nimble or agile: light on one's feet.
  19. free from trouble, sorrow, or worry; carefree: a light heart.
  20. cheerful; merry: a light laugh.
  21. characterized by lack of proper seriousness; frivolous: light conduct.
  22. sexually promiscuous; loose.
  23. easily swayed; changeable; volatile: a heart light of love; His is a life of a man light of purpose.
  24. dizzy; slightly delirious: I get light on one martini.
  25. Military. lightly armed or equipped: light cavalry.
  26. having little or no cargo, encumbrance, or the like; not burdened: a light freighter drawing little water.
  27. adapted by small weight or slight build for small loads or swift movement: The grocer bought a light truck for deliveries.
  28. using small-scale machinery primarily for the production of consumer goods: light industry.
  29. Nautical. noting any sail of light canvas set only in moderate or calm weather, as a royal, skysail, studdingsail, gaff topsail, or spinnaker.
  30. Meteorology. (of wind) having a speed up to 7 miles per hour (3 m/sec).Compare light air, light breeze.
  31. Phonetics. (of l-sounds) resembling a front vowel in quality; clear: French l is lighter than English l.
  32. Prosody. (of a syllable)
    1. unstressed(def 1).
    2. short(def 17a).
  33. Poker. being in debt to the pot: He's a dollar light.
adverb, light·er, light·est.
  1. lightly: to travel light.
  2. with no load or cargo hauled or carried: a locomotive running light to its roundhouse.
  1. a light product, as a beer or cigarette.
  1. make light of, to treat as unimportant or trivial: They made light of our hard-won victory.

Origin of light

before 900; Middle English; Old English lēoht, līht; cognate with Old Frisian li(u)cht, Old Saxon -līht, Dutch licht, German leicht, Old Norse lēttr, Gothic leihts
Can be confusedlight lite

Synonyms for light

See more synonyms for on

Antonyms for light

1. heavy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lighter

Contemporary Examples of lighter

Historical Examples of lighter

  • Perhaps it was some law of opposites, and she needed some one of lighter nature than her own.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Both hearts were heavy, but Mr. Brunton's was the lighter of the two.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • It will be lighter now; I sha'n't mind what anybody says if you're with me, mother.


    W. A. Fraser

  • The room was dark, but the street was lighter, because of its lamps.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • If you had, the meeting on Wednesday would have been a lighter trial to you.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

British Dictionary definitions for lighter


  1. a small portable device for providing a naked flame or red-hot filament to light cigarettes, etc
  2. a person or thing that ignites something


  1. a flat-bottomed barge used for transporting cargo, esp in loading or unloading a ship

Word Origin for lighter

C15: probably from Middle Dutch; compare C16 Dutch lichter


  1. God regarded as a source of illuminating grace and strength
  2. Quakerism short for Inner Light


  1. the medium of illumination that makes sight possible
  2. Also called: visible radiation electromagnetic radiation that is capable of causing a visual sensation and has wavelengths from about 380 to about 780 nanometres
  3. (not in technical usage) electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength outside this range, esp ultraviolet radiationultraviolet light
  4. the sensation experienced when electromagnetic radiation within the visible spectrum falls on the retina of the eyeRelated prefix: photo-
  5. anything that illuminates, such as a lamp or candle
  6. See traffic light
  7. a particular quality or type of lighta good light for reading
    1. illumination from the sun during the day; daylight
    2. the time this appears; daybreak; dawn
  8. anything that allows the entrance of light, such as a window or compartment of a window
  9. the condition of being visible or known (esp in the phrases bring or come to light)
  10. an aspect or viewhe saw it in a different light
  11. mental understanding or spiritual insight
  12. a person considered to be an authority or leader
  13. brightness of countenance, esp a sparkle in the eyes
    1. the act of igniting or kindling something, such as a cigarette
    2. something that ignites or kindles, esp in a specified manner, such as a spark or flame
    3. something used for igniting or kindling, such as a match
  14. See lighthouse
    1. the effect of illumination on objects or scenes, as created in a picture
    2. an area of brightness in a picture, as opposed to shade
  15. a poetic or archaic word for eyesight
  16. the answer to a clue in a crossword
  17. in light of or in the light of in view of; taking into account; considering
  18. light at the end of the tunnel hope for the ending of a difficult or unpleasant situation
  19. out like a light quickly asleep or unconscious
  20. see the light
    1. to gain sudden insight into or understanding of something
    2. to experience a religious conversion
  21. see the light or see the light of day
    1. to come into being
    2. to come to public notice
  22. shed light on or throw light on to clarify or supply additional information on
  23. stand in a person's light to stand so as to obscure a person's vision
  24. strike a light
    1. (verb)to ignite something, esp a match, by friction
    2. (interjection) Britishan exclamation of surprise
  1. full of light; well-lighted
  2. (of a colour) reflecting or transmitting a large amount of lightlight yellow Compare medium (def. 2), dark (def. 2)
  3. phonetics relating to or denoting an (l) pronounced with front vowel resonance; clearthe French "l" is much lighter than that of English See dark (def. 9)
verb lights, lighting, lighted or lit (lɪt)
  1. to ignite or cause to ignite
  2. (often foll by up) to illuminate or cause to illuminate
  3. to make or become cheerful or animated
  4. (tr) to guide or lead by light
See also lights 1, light up
Derived Formslightish, adjectivelightless, adjective

Word Origin for light

Old English lēoht; related to Old High German lioht, Gothic liuhath, Latin lux


  1. not heavy; weighing relatively little
  2. having relatively low densitymagnesium is a light metal
  3. lacking sufficient weight; not agreeing with standard or official weights
  4. not great in degree, intensity, or numberlight rain; a light eater
  5. without burdens, difficulties, or problems; easily borne or donea light heart; light work
  6. graceful, agile, or deftlight fingers
  7. not bulky or clumsy
  8. not serious or profound; entertaininglight verse
  9. without importance or consequence; insignificantno light matter
  10. frivolous or capricious
  11. loose in morals
  12. dizzy or uncleara light head
  13. (of bread, cake, etc) spongy or well leavened
  14. easily digesteda light meal
  15. relatively low in alcoholic contenta light wine
  16. (of a soil) having a crumbly texture
  17. (of a vessel, lorry, etc)
    1. designed to carry light loads
    2. not loaded
  18. carrying light arms or equipmentlight infantry
  19. (of an industry) engaged in the production of small consumer goods using light machineryCompare heavy (def. 10)
  20. aeronautics (of an aircraft) having a maximum take-off weight less than 5670 kilograms (12 500 pounds)
  21. chem (of an oil fraction obtained from coal tar) having a boiling range between about 100° and 210°C
  22. (of a railway) having a narrow gauge, or in some cases a standard gauge with speed or load restrictions not applied to a main line
  23. bridge
    1. (of a bid) made on insufficient values
    2. (of a player) having failed to take sufficient tricks to make his contract
  24. phonetics prosody (of a syllable, vowel, etc) unaccented or weakly stressed; shortCompare heavy (def. 13) See also light 1 (def. 30)
  25. phonetics the least of three levels of stress in an utterance, in such languages as English
  26. light on informal lacking a sufficient quantity of (something)
  27. make light of to treat as insignificant or trifling
  1. a less common word for lightly
  2. with little equipment, baggage, etcto travel light
verb lights, lighting, lighted or lit (lɪt) (intr)
  1. (esp of birds) to settle or land after flight
  2. to get down from a horse, vehicle, etc
  3. (foll by on or upon) to come upon unexpectedly
  4. to strike or fall onthe choice lighted on me
Derived Formslightish, adjectivelightly, adverblightness, noun

Word Origin for light

Old English lēoht; related to Dutch licht, Gothic leihts
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

Word Origin and History for lighter

"barge," late 15c., agent noun from light (adj.1), with a sense of lightening a load, or else from Dutch lichter, from lichten "to lighten, unload," on the same notion. They are used in loading or unloading ships that cannot approach a wharf.


"person who lights," 1550s, agent noun from light (v.2).



"to illuminate, fill with brightness," Old English lyhtan, common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon liohtian, Old High German liuhtan, German leuchten, Gothic liuhtjan "to light"), from source of from light (n.). Related: Lighted; lighting.



"not dark," Old English leoht, common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon and Old High German lioht, Old Frisian liacht, German licht "bright," from the source of Old English leoht (see light (n.)). Meaning "pale-hued" is from 1540s.



"brightness, radiant energy," Old English leht, earlier leoht "light, daylight; luminous, beautiful," from West Germanic *leukhtam (cf. Old Saxon lioht, Old Frisian liacht, Middle Dutch lucht, Dutch licht, Old High German lioht, German Licht, Gothic liuhaþ "light"), from PIE *leuk- "light, brightness" (cf. Sanskrit rocate "shines;" Armenian lois "light," lusin "moon;" Greek leukos "bright, shining, white;" Latin lucere "to shine," lux "light," lucidus "clear;" Old Church Slavonic luci "light;" Lithuanian laukas "pale;" Welsh llug "gleam, glimmer;" Old Irish loche "lightning," luchair "brightness;" Hittite lukezi "is bright").

The -gh- was an Anglo-French scribal attempt to render the Germanic hard -h- sound, which has since disappeared from this word. The figurative spiritual sense was in Old English; the sense of "mental illumination" is first recorded mid-15c. Meaning "something used for igniting" is from 1680s. Meaning "a consideration which puts something in a certain view (e.g. in light of) is from 1680s. Something that's a joy and a delight has been the light of (someone's) eyes since Old English:

Ðu eart dohtor min, minra eagna leoht [Juliana].

To see the light "come into the world" is from 1680s; later in a Christian sense.



"not heavy," from Old English leoht "not heavy, light in weight; easy, trifling; quick, agile," from Proto-Germanic *lingkhtaz (cf. Old Norse lettr, Swedish lätt, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch licht, German leicht, Gothic leihts), from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight" (cf. Latin levis "light," Old Irish lu "small;" see lever).

The notion in make light of (1520s) is of "unimportance." Alternative spelling lite, the darling of advertisers, is first recorded 1962. The adverb is Old English leohte, from the adjective. Light-skirts "woman of easy virtue" is attested from 1590s. To make light of is from 1520s.



"touch down," from Old English lihtan "to alight; alleviate, leave," from Proto-Germanic *linkhtijan, literally "to make light," from *lingkhtaz "not heavy" (see light (adj.1)). Apparently the ground sense is "to dismount a horse, etc., and thus relieve it of one's weight." To light out "leave hastily" is 1870, from a nautical meaning "move out, move heavy objects," of unknown origin but perhaps belonging to this word (cf. lighter (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lighter in Medicine


  1. Electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength in the range from about 4,000 (violet) to about 7,700 (red) angstroms and may be perceived by the normal unaided human eye.
  2. Electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

lighter in Science


  1. Electromagnetic radiation that can be perceived by the human eye. It is made up of electromagnetic waves with wavelengths between 4 X 10-7 and 7 X 10-7 meters. Light, and all other electromagnetic radiation, travels at a speed of about 299,728 km (185,831 mi) per second in a vacuum. See also photon.
  2. Electromagnetic energy of a wavelength just outside the range the human eye can detect, such as infrared light and ultraviolet light. See Note at electromagnetic radiation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

lighter in Culture


The type of electromagnetic wave that is visible to the human eye. Visible light runs along a spectrum from the short wavelengths of violet to the longer wavelengths of red. (See photon.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with lighter


In addition to the idioms beginning with light

  • light a fire under
  • light as a feather
  • light at the end of the tunnel
  • light dawned, the
  • lighten up
  • light heart
  • light into
  • lightning never strikes twice in the same place
  • light on
  • light out
  • light up

also see:

  • begin to see daylight (see the light of day)
  • bring to light
  • come to light
  • go light on
  • green light
  • heavy (light) heart
  • hide one's light
  • in a good (bad) light
  • in the cold light of day
  • in the light of
  • lace (light) into
  • leading light
  • make light of
  • many hands make light work
  • once over lightly
  • out cold (like a light)
  • see the light
  • shed light on
  • sweetness and light
  • travel light
  • trip the light fantastic
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.