alight

1 of 2

verb

alighted also alit ə-ˈlit How to pronounce alight (audio) ; alighting

intransitive verb

1
: to come down from something (such as a vehicle): such as
a
: dismount
They alighted from the bus.
b
2
: to descend from or as if from the air and come to rest : land, settle
The bird alighted on a branch.
snow alighting on a roof
3
archaic : to come by chance
alightment noun

alight

2 of 2

adjective

1
chiefly British : being on fire
2
: lighted up
The sky was alight with stars.

Examples of alight in a Sentence

Verb A group of tourists alighted from the boat. a flock of eight swans circled above, then alighted on the pond Adjective The sky was alight with stars. Enemy soldiers set the building alight.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The bird took flight again, finally alighting on the boat, where Mr. Yilmaz tossed him fish after fish. Safak Timur Ivor Prickett, New York Times, 30 Mar. 2024 One recuperating bird escaped the hands of a caretaker and alighted on top of a shelf. Jess McHugh, Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2024 Taylor Swift is expected to alight at the Super Bowl next Sunday — and gambling sites are ready for it. Todd Spangler, Variety, 5 Feb. 2024 Beavers, quail, and deer, which haven’t been seen in the area in decades, tiptoe through swampy ponds early in the morning, while migratory birds alight overnight on knolls before flying south. Jake Bittle, WIRED, 6 Jan. 2024 On a recent evening, just before sunset, a police helicopter alighted, paused for a few minutes with its propeller spinning, then took off again. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, 29 Dec. 2023 For some time, there has been an assumption that — at one point or another — the Premier League will inevitably alight upon its own version of this approach. Rory Smith, New York Times, 8 Dec. 2023 Smack dab in the middle of the course is a large wooden board seesawing on a cylinder, so that climbing onto it, advancing to the mid-point, making the board tilt downward with that crucial forward step, and then successfully alighting are parts of a suspenseful odyssey. Han Ong, The New Yorker, 16 Oct. 2023 Soon my wandering eye alighted on the next table, where two men were slurping a verdant broth — green curry pho. Brooke Hauser, BostonGlobe.com, 6 Sep. 2023
Adjective
In the hours since the Grammys wrapped up, the fanbase has been alight with memes pointing out the link between the two. Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 5 Feb. 2024 The internet is alight with photographs of Swift celebrating with Kelce after his team, the Kansas City Chiefs, defeated the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday to secure a spot in the Super Bowl on Feb. 11 against the San Francisco 49ers. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 29 Jan. 2024 Mulu’s phone is constantly alight with calls from women in crisis. Katharine Houreld, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2023 Lately, our neighborhood’s message boards and online community gifting page are alight with parents trying to make space, to clear out the things their kids no longer need. Caitlin Gibson, Washington Post, 13 Dec. 2023 Jones sets up with his feet staggered, knees bent, right hand on alight kettlebell. Matt Gagne, Men's Health, 15 Aug. 2023 Our hands are increasingly the center of attention—as much accessories as our jewelry and handbags—which is why social media is alight with an array of different nail trends, all of which just might inspire your next look. Valentina Bottoni, Vogue, 3 Aug. 2023 Social media is alight with images of military airstrikes pummeling the capital and accounts of families pulverized by heavy weapons. Hafiz Haroun, Washington Post, 17 May 2023 Brathwaite saw a young man taking photos in a dark jazz club without the use of a flash, and his mind became alight with possibility. Wallace Ludel, CNN, 4 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alight.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English alighten "to descend, get off (of), dismount," going back to Old English alīhtan (transitive) "to lighten, relieve," (intransitive) "to descend, get off (of)," from a-, perfective prefix + līhtan "to make lighter, descend, dismount" — more at abide, light entry 6

Adjective

Middle English alyht, alight, past participle of alighten "to set on fire, kindle, shed spiritual light on," going back to Old English alīhtan "to illuminate, light up," from a-, perfective prefix + līhtan "to shed light, set on fire" — more at abide, light entry 3

Note: In Modern English reanalyzed as a- entry 1 + light entry 1, by analogy with ablaze, afire, aflame.

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of alight was before the 12th century

Cite this Entry

“Alight.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alight. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

alight

1 of 2 verb
alighted
-ˈlīt-əd
also alit ə-ˈlit How to pronounce alight (audio) ; alighting
1
: to get down : dismount
2
: to descend from the air and settle : land
the bird alighted on a twig

alight

2 of 2 adjective
: full of light : lighted up
the sky was alight with stars

More from Merriam-Webster on alight

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