light

1 of 6

noun

plural lights
1
a
: something that makes vision possible
b
: the sensation aroused by stimulation of the visual receptors
c
: electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength that travels in a vacuum with a speed of 299,792,458 meters (about 186,000 miles) per second
specifically : such radiation that is visible to the human eye
2
a
: daylight
was up each morning at the first light Frank O'Connor
b
: dawn
3
: a source of light: such as
a
: a celestial body
As night fell the lights in the sky multiplied.
b
: candle
put a light in the window
c
: an electric light
4
a
: a color of notable lightness : a light or pale color
usually plural
Bartlett allows his preliminary wash or grisaille to dry and then applies transparent layers of broken color. Into this wash he adds the lights and darks as they have been mapped out underneath. Harley Bartlett
b
lights plural : clothing that is light in color
always washed his lights separately from his darks
5
archaic : sight sense 4a
6
a
: spiritual illumination
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it John 1:5 (Revised Standard Version)
c
: enlightenment
reaching out and groping for a pathway to the light B. N. Cardozo
d
: truth
7
a
: public knowledge
facts brought to light
b
: a particular aspect or appearance presented to view
saw the matter in a different light
8
: a particular illumination
9
: something that enlightens or informs
shed some light on the problem
10
: a medium (such as a window) through which light is admitted
11
lights plural : a set of principles, standards, or opinions
worship according to one's lights Adrienne Koch
12
: a noteworthy person in a particular place or field
a literary light among current writers
see also leading light
13
: a particular expression of the eye
listened with a fiery light burning in her eyes Sherwood Anderson
14
15
: the representation of light in art
16
: a flame for lighting something (such as a cigarette)

light

2 of 6

adjective (1)

lighter; lightest
1
: having light : bright
a light airy room
2
a
: not intense in color, coloring, or pigmentation : not dark : pale
light hair
b
of colors : medium in saturation and high in lightness
light blue
3
of coffee : served with extra milk or cream

light

3 of 6

verb (1)

lit ˈlit How to pronounce light (audio) or lighted; lighting

intransitive verb

1
: to become light : brighten
usually used with up
her face lit up
2
: to take fire
3
: to ignite something (such as a cigarette)
often used with up

transitive verb

1
: to set fire to
2
a
: to conduct with a light : guide
b
: illuminate
rockets light up the sky
c
: animate, brighten
a smile lit up her face

light

4 of 6

adjective (2)

1
a
: having little weight : not heavy
b
: designed to carry a comparatively small load
a light truck
c
: having relatively little weight in proportion to bulk
aluminum is a light metal
d
: containing less than the legal, standard, or usual weight
a light coin
2
a
: of little importance : trivial
b
: not abundant
light rain
a light lunch
3
a
: easily disturbed
a light sleeper
b
: exerting a minimum of force or pressure : gentle
a light touch
c
: resulting from a very slight pressure : faint
light print
4
a
: easily endurable
a light illness
b
: requiring little effort
light work
5
: capable of moving swiftly or nimbly
light on his feet
6
a
: frivolous sense 1a
light conduct
b
: lacking in stability : changeable
light opinions
c
: sexually promiscuous
7
: free from care : cheerful
8
: less powerful but usually more mobile than usual for its kind
light cavalry
a light cruiser
9
a
: made with a lower calorie content or with less of some ingredient (such as salt, fat, or alcohol) than usual
b
: having a relatively mild flavor
10
a
: easily digested
a light soup
b
: well leavened
a light crust
11
: coarse and sandy or easily pulverized
light soil
12
: dizzy, giddy
felt light in the head
13
: intended chiefly to entertain
light verse
light comedy
14
a
: carrying little or no cargo
the ship returned light
b
: producing goods for direct consumption by the consumer
light industry
15
: not bearing a stress or accent
a light syllable
16
: having a clear soft quality
a light voice
17
: being in debt to the pot in a poker game
three chips light
18
: short sense 5d
light on experience
19
: casual, occasional
a light smoker
lightish adjective

light

5 of 6

adverb

1
2
: with little baggage
travel light

light

6 of 6

verb (2)

lit ˈlit How to pronounce light (audio) or lighted; lighting

intransitive verb

1
2
: settle, alight
a bird lit on the lawn
3
: to fall unexpectedly
usually used with on or upon
4
: to arrive by chance : happen
usually used with on or upon
lit upon a solution
Phrases
in the light of
1
: from the point of view of
2
or in light of : in view of
In light of their findings, new procedures were established.
light into
: to attack forcefully
I lit into that food until I'd finished off the heel of the loaf Helen Eustis
Choose the Right Synonym for light

easy, facile, simple, light, effortless, smooth mean not demanding effort or involving difficulty.

easy is applicable either to persons or things imposing tasks or to activity required by such tasks.

an easy college course

facile often adds to easy the connotation of undue haste or shallowness.

facile answers to complex questions

simple stresses ease in understanding or dealing with because complication is absent.

a simple problem in arithmetic

light stresses freedom from what is burdensome.

a light teaching load

effortless stresses the appearance of ease and usually implies the prior attainment of artistry or expertness.

moving with effortless grace

smooth stresses the absence or removal of all difficulties, hardships, or obstacles.

a smooth ride

Example Sentences

Noun The landscape was bathed in light. a photograph taken in low light the light of the moon a mixture of light and shadow The windows let fresh air and light into the room. The lights suddenly went out. The lights suddenly came on. the twinkling lights of the city below the bright lights of Broadway The lights are on, so there must be somebody at home. See More

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English liht, light, going back to Old English lēoht, Anglian lēht, going back to Germanic *leuh-t-, neuter noun (whence also Old Frisian liācht "light," Old Saxon lioht, Middle Dutch licht, lich, Old High German lioht), probably syncopated from an earlier consonantal stem *leuhađa-, as in Gothic liuhaþ "light," derivative of an Indo-European base *leu̯k- "become bright," whence Sanskrit rócate "(it) shines, is bright," Avestan raociṇt- "brightening," Hittite lukta "it becomes light, dawns"

Note: Gothic liuhaþ has been compared directly with Hittite lukkatt- "dawn, next morning."

Adjective (1)

Middle English lyht, light, going back to Old English lēoht, Anglian lēht "filled with light, bright, clear," going back to Germanic *leuhta- (whence also Old Frisian liācht, licht "light, bright," Old Saxon lioht, Middle Dutch licht, lecht, Old High German lioht, liuhti), going back to Indo-European *leu̯k-to-, probably verbal adjective from the base *leu̯k- "become bright" — more at light entry 1

Verb (1)

Middle English lihten, lighten "to emit light, shine, dawn, shed light on, light (a fire, a candle), set fire to, illuminate," going back to Old English līohtan, līehtan, Anglian līhtan "to give light, become light, light (a candle)," going back to Germanic *leuhtije- (whence also Old Saxon liuhtan "to shine," Middle Dutch luchten, Old High German liuhten, Gothic liuhtjan "to give light"), weak verb derivative from *leuhta- "bright, light entry 2"

Adjective (2)

Middle English, from Old English lēoht; akin to Old High German līhti light, Latin levis, Greek elachys small

Verb (2)

Middle English, from Old English līhtan; akin to Old English lēoht light in weight

First Known Use

Noun

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

Adjective (1)

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

Verb (1)

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

Adjective (2)

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

Adverb

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

Verb (2)

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near light

Cite this Entry

“Light.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/light. Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

light 1 of 6

noun

1
a
: something that makes vision possible
b
: the sensation aroused by stimulation of the visual sense organs
c
: electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength (as infrared, visible, ultraviolet, and X-rays) and traveling in a vacuum with a speed of about 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second
especially : such radiation that is visible to the human eye
2
: daylight sense 1
by dawn's early light
3
: a source (as a lamp) of light
turn on the light
4
a
: public knowledge
facts brought to light
b
: a particular appearance presented to view
were shown in a bad light by the lawyer
I see the matter in a different light now
5
: a particular illumination
by the light of the moon
6
: something that helps one to know or understand
shed light on a problem
7
: a noted person : leading light
8
b
: traffic signal
turn left at the next light
9
: a flame for lighting something
in light of
: with respect to
consider their advice in light of your own needs

light

2 of 6

adjective

1
: having light : bright
a light room
2
: not dark or deep in color : pale
light blue
lightness noun

light

3 of 6

verb

lighted or lit ˈlit How to pronounce light (audio) ; lighting
1
: to make or become bright
often used with up
2
: to cause to burn or begin to burn
often used with up
3
: to lead with a light
light a guest up the stairs

light

4 of 6

adjective

1
a
: having little or less than usual weight : not heavy
b
: designed to carry a small load
light truck
2
a
: of little importance
b
: not abundant : scanty
light rain
c
: not strong or violent : moderate
light breezes
3
a
: easily disturbed
a light sleeper
b
: putting forth little force or pressure : gentle
a light touch
4
: not hard to bear, do, pay, or digest
light punishment
light exercise
light food
5
: capable of moving swiftly or nimbly
light on one's feet
6
: intended chiefly to entertain
light reading
light verse
7
: made with a lower calorie content or with less of some ingredient (as fat)
light salad dressing
8
: having a spongy or fluffy quality
light pastry
9
: producing goods that will be sold to the people who use them rather than to another manufacturer
light industry
lightly adverb
lightness noun

light

5 of 6

adverb

1
: in a light manner
2
: with little baggage
traveling light

light

6 of 6

verb

lighted or lit ˈlit How to pronounce light (audio) ; lighting
1
: to come down out of the air and settle : alight
birds lit on the lawn
2
: to come by chance
lit upon a solution

Medical Definition

light 1 of 2

noun

1
a
: the sensation aroused by stimulation of the visual receptors
b
: an electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range including infrared, visible, ultraviolet, and X-rays and traveling in a vacuum with a speed of about 186,281 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second
specifically : the part of this range that is visible to the human eye
2
: a source of light

light

2 of 2

adjective

variants or lite
: made with a lower calorie content or with less of some ingredient (as salt, fat, or alcohol) than usual
light salad dressing

More from Merriam-Webster on light

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ