See more synonyms for limelight on
  1. Theater.
    1. (formerly) a lighting unit for spotlighting the front of the stage, producing illumination by means of a flame of mixed gases directed at a cylinder of lime and having a special lens for concentrating the light in a strong beam.
    2. the light so produced.
    3. Chiefly British.a lighting unit, especially a spotlight.
  2. the center of public attention, interest, observation, or notoriety: He seems fond of the limelight.

Origin of limelight

First recorded in 1820–30; lime1 + light1
Related formslime·light·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for limelight

glare, prominence, spotlight, hype, eminence, renown, exposure

Examples from the Web for limelight

Contemporary Examples of limelight

Historical Examples of limelight

  • "It must be jolly to know him out of the limelight," said the girl, seriously.

    Miss Pat at School

    Pemberton Ginther

  • "Talk about clothes bringing one into the limelight," she commented.

    Miss Pat at Artemis Lodge

    Pemberton Ginther

  • How many of those that stood out in the limelight of '98 can tell the tale to-day?

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • Uncle Peter crossed over and got in the limelight with Lizzie.

  • Don't forget the team that has helped us all season, the team that doesn't get into the limelight.

    Left Guard Gilbert

    Ralph Henry Barbour

British Dictionary definitions for limelight


  1. the limelight a position of public attention or notice (esp in the phrase in the limelight)
    1. a type of lamp, formerly used in stage lighting, in which light is produced by heating lime to white heat
    2. Also called: calcium lightbrilliant white light produced in this way
Derived Formslimelighter, noun
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 limelight

1826, popular name for Drummond light, a brilliant light created by the incandescence of lime (n.1); adopted for lighthouses and later for the Victorian stage, where it illuminated the principal actors, hence the figurative sense of "on stage, at the center of attention" (1877).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper