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bright spark

A person who is regarded as clever or intelligent. The term can also be used sarcastically to mean the opposite. Primarily heard in UK, Australia, New Zealand. Timmy's the bright spark of the family—he graduated at the top of his class. Some bright spark at the auto repair shop forgot to tighten the lugnuts on my wheels after he rotated my tires.
See also: bright, spark

spark something off

1. Lit. to ignite something flammable or explosive. The lightning sparked afire off. The match sparked off a raging inferno.
2. Fig. to cause or start some violent or energetic activity. We were afraid there would be a riot and the speaker nearly sparked it off. The speaker sparked off quite a discussion.
See also: off, spark

a bright spark

  (British & Australian)
an intelligent person
Usage notes: This phrase is often used humorously to mean the opposite.
Some bright spark was clearing up and threw my invitation away.
See also: bright, spark

a spark plug

  (American informal)
a person with a lot of energy and ideas who encourages the other people in a group The school's new principal is the spark plug in a team that includes parents, teachers and community.
See also: plug, spark

make the sparks fly

Start a fight or argument, as in If Mary finds out he went to the races without her, that will make the sparks fly. In this idiom, the small particles of a fire called sparks are transferred to an inflammatory situation. [Early 1900s]
See also: fly, make, Sparks

spark off

1. To ignite some fire: Forest rangers think that a cigarette sparked off the blaze. After the fire was extinguished, investigators tried to determine what sparked it off.
2. To set something in motion; trigger something: The assassination sparked off a revolution. Historians disagree about what sparked the riot off.
See also: off, spark

spark up

1. To initiate some conversation, friendship, or debate: On the train, I sparked up a conversation with the person next to me. The trial sparked a debate up over free speech.
2. To light some cigarette, cigar, or similar product: He lit a match and sparked up his pipe. She took a cigar from the case and sparked it up. The smokers went outside to spark up.
See also: spark, up