noun (1)
light·​ness | \ ˈlīt-nəs How to pronounce lightness (audio) \

Definition of lightness

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the quality or state of being illuminated the lightness [=brightness] of the room/sky
2a : the attribute of object colors by which the object appears to reflect or transmit more or less of the incident light — compare brightness sense 2, hue sense 2c, saturation sense 4
b : the quality or state of having or being a light (see light entry 2 sense 2a) skin color "As long as there's White racism, there will be racism within the Black community and favoritism for lightness."— Midge Wilson Elmore had a very fair complexion. And while he had never used the lightness of his skin to pass as white, the clerk who took his voter registration paperwork never asked the question. And just like that, George Elmore registered to vote.— Antjuan Seawright


noun (2)

Definition of lightness (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the quality or state of being light especially in weight
2 : lack of seriousness and stability of character often accompanied by casual heedlessness
3a : the quality or state of being nimble
b : an ease and gaiety of style or manner
4 : a lack of weightiness or force : delicacy

First Known Use of lightness

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for lightness

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The first known use of lightness was in the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Lightness.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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