the act of igniting or illuminating: the lighting of many candles; the annual lighting of the Christmas tree.
the arrangement of lights to achieve particular effects: to work out the lighting for one's living room.
an effect achieved by the arrangement of lights: Several critics praised the lighting of the play.
the science, theory, or method of achieving particular effects by the use of lights.
the way light falls upon a face, object, etc., especially in a picture.

Origin of lighting

before 1000; Middle English lightinge, Old English līhting. See light1, -ing1
Related formsself-light·ing, adjective




something that makes things visible or affords illumination: All colors depend on light.
  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.
the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of sight.
an illuminating agent or source, as the sun, a lamp, or a beacon.
the radiance or illumination from a particular source: the light of a candle.
the illumination from the sun; daylight: We awoke at the first light.
daybreak or dawn: when light appeared in the east.
daytime: Summer has more hours of light.
a particular light or illumination in which an object seen takes on a certain appearance: viewing the portrait in dim light.
a device for or means of igniting, as a spark, flame, or match: Could you give me a light?
a traffic light: Don't cross till the light changes.
the aspect in which a thing appears or is regarded: Try to look at the situation in a more cheerful light.
the state of being visible, exposed to view, or revealed to public notice or knowledge; limelight: Stardom has placed her in the light.
a person who is an outstanding leader, celebrity, or example; luminary: He became one of the leading lights of Restoration drama.
  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.
a gleam or sparkle, as in the eyes.
a measure or supply of light; illumination: The wall cuts off our light.
spiritual illumination or awareness; enlightenment.
  1. Also called compartment of a window or window sash.
  2. a window, especially a small one.
mental insight; understanding.
lights, the information, ideas, or mental capacities possessed: to act according to one's lights.
a lighthouse.
Archaic. the eyesight.

adjective, light·er, light·est.

having light or illumination; bright; well-lighted: the lightest room in the entire house.
pale, whitish, or not deep or dark in color: a light blue.
(of coffee or tea) containing enough milk or cream to produce a light color.

verb (used with object), light·ed or lit, light·ing.

to set burning, as a candle, lamp, fire, match, or cigarette; kindle; ignite.
to turn or switch on (an electric light): One flick of the master switch lights all the lamps in the room.
to give light to; furnish with light or illumination: The room is lighted by two large chandeliers.
to make (an area or object) bright with or as if with light (often followed by up): Hundreds of candles lighted up the ballroom.
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.
to guide or conduct with a light: a candle to light you to bed.

verb (used without object), light·ed or lit, light·ing.

to take fire or become kindled: The damp wood refused to light.
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.
to become illuminated when switched on: This table lamp won't light.
to become bright, as with light or color (often followed by up): The sky lights up at sunset.
to brighten with animation or joy, as the face or eyes (often followed by up).


    bring to light, to discover or reveal: The excavations brought to light the remnants of an ancient civilization.
    come to light, to be discovered or revealed: Some previously undiscovered letters have lately come to light.
    hide one's light under a bushel, to conceal or suppress one's talents or successes.
    in a good/bad light, under favorable (or unfavorable) circumstances: She worshiped him, but then she'd only seen him in a good light.
    in (the) light of, taking into account; because of; considering: It was necessary to review the decision in the light of recent developments.
    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.
    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.
    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



verb (used without object), light·ed or lit, light·ing.

to get down or descend, as from a horse or a vehicle.
to come to rest, as on a spot or thing; fall or settle upon; land: The bird lighted on the branch. My eye lighted on some friends in the crowd.
to come by chance; happen; hit (usually followed by on or upon): to light on a clue; to light on an ideal picnic spot.
to fall, as a stroke, weapon, vengeance, or choice, on a place or person: The choice lighted upon our candidate.

Verb Phrases

light into, Informal. to make a vigorous physical or verbal attack on: He would light into anyone with the slightest provocation.
light out, Slang. to leave quickly; depart hurriedly: He lit out of here as fast as his legs would carry him.

Origin of light

before 900; Middle English lihten, Old English līhtan to make light, relieve of a weight; see light2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for lighting

light, flame, brilliance, brightness, fire, kindling, burning

Examples from the Web for lighting

Contemporary Examples of lighting

Historical Examples of lighting

  • He turned toward the hall door as if with the intention of lighting the chandelier.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • But he smoked incessantly, lighting one cigarette from another.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • "These will do excellently for lighting our morning camp fire," he said.

  • Marriott was lighting the six wax candles on the dressing-table.

  • From the swing at golf to the manner of lighting a match in the wind, this truism applies.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

British Dictionary definitions for lighting



the act or quality of illumination or ignition
the apparatus for supplying artificial light effects to a stage, film, or television set
the distribution of light on an object or figure, as in painting, photography, etc



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




the medium of illumination that makes sight possible
Also called: visible radiation electromagnetic radiation that is capable of causing a visual sensation and has wavelengths from about 380 to about 780 nanometres
(not in technical usage) electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength outside this range, esp ultraviolet radiationultraviolet light
the sensation experienced when electromagnetic radiation within the visible spectrum falls on the retina of the eyeRelated prefix: photo-
anything that illuminates, such as a lamp or candle
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
anything that allows the entrance of light, such as a window or compartment of a window
the condition of being visible or known (esp in the phrases bring or come to light)
an aspect or viewhe saw it in a different light
mental understanding or spiritual insight
a person considered to be an authority or leader
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
  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
a poetic or archaic word for eyesight
the answer to a clue in a crossword
in light of or in the light of in view of; taking into account; considering
light at the end of the tunnel hope for the ending of a difficult or unpleasant situation
out like a light quickly asleep or unconscious
see the light
  1. to gain sudden insight into or understanding of something
  2. to experience a religious conversion
see the light or see the light of day
  1. to come into being
  2. to come to public notice
shed light on or throw light on to clarify or supply additional information on
stand in a person's light to stand so as to obscure a person's vision
strike a light
  1. (verb)to ignite something, esp a match, by friction
  2. (interjection) Britishan exclamation of surprise


full of light; well-lighted
(of a colour) reflecting or transmitting a large amount of lightlight yellow Compare medium (def. 2), dark (def. 2)
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)

to ignite or cause to ignite
(often foll by up) to illuminate or cause to illuminate
to make or become cheerful or animated
(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




not heavy; weighing relatively little
having relatively low densitymagnesium is a light metal
lacking sufficient weight; not agreeing with standard or official weights
not great in degree, intensity, or numberlight rain; a light eater
without burdens, difficulties, or problems; easily borne or donea light heart; light work
graceful, agile, or deftlight fingers
not bulky or clumsy
not serious or profound; entertaininglight verse
without importance or consequence; insignificantno light matter
frivolous or capricious
loose in morals
dizzy or uncleara light head
(of bread, cake, etc) spongy or well leavened
easily digesteda light meal
relatively low in alcoholic contenta light wine
(of a soil) having a crumbly texture
(of a vessel, lorry, etc)
  1. designed to carry light loads
  2. not loaded
carrying light arms or equipmentlight infantry
(of an industry) engaged in the production of small consumer goods using light machineryCompare heavy (def. 10)
aeronautics (of an aircraft) having a maximum take-off weight less than 5670 kilograms (12 500 pounds)
chem (of an oil fraction obtained from coal tar) having a boiling range between about 100° and 210°C
(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
  1. (of a bid) made on insufficient values
  2. (of a player) having failed to take sufficient tricks to make his contract
phonetics prosody (of a syllable, vowel, etc) unaccented or weakly stressed; shortCompare heavy (def. 13) See also light 1 (def. 30)
phonetics the least of three levels of stress in an utterance, in such languages as English
light on informal lacking a sufficient quantity of (something)
make light of to treat as insignificant or trifling


a less common word for lightly
with little equipment, baggage, etcto travel light

verb lights, lighting, lighted or lit (lɪt) (intr)

(esp of birds) to settle or land after flight
to get down from a horse, vehicle, etc
(foll by on or upon) to come upon unexpectedly
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 lighting

"shining, illumination," Old English lihting, from leoht (see light (n.)).



"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

lighting in Medicine




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.
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.

lighting in Science



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.
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.

lighting 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 lighting


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.