(all) sweetness and light

(all) sweetness and light

1. Of a person, particularly pleasant, amiable, or magnanimous, especially to an ostentatious or exaggerated degree. That's just toddlers for you—horrible temper tantrums one moment, sweetness and light the next. She's all sweetness and light most of the time, so it's really surprising when she makes such nasty remarks.
2. Of a situation, particularly pleasant, enjoyable, or appealing. Often used in negative constructions. Anyone expecting the project to be sweetness and light from beginning to end is naïve. I know it seems like they have the perfect marriage, but it's not all sweetness and light behind closed doors.
See also: and, light, sweetness

all sweetness and light

Kind and agreeable. Susan's all sweetness and light, I'm sure she's not mad at you.
See also: all, and, light, sweetness

all sweetness and light

Cliché very kind, innocent, and helpful. She was mad at first, but after a while, she was all sweetness and light. At the reception, the whole family was all sweetness and light, but they argued and fought after the guests left.
See also: all, and, light, sweetness

sweetness and light

Ostentatious amiability and friendliness, as in One day she has a temper tantrum, the next day she's all sweetness and light. This phrase was coined by Jonathan Swift in his Battle of the Books (1704), where it referred literally to the products of bees: honey and light from beeswax candles. But in Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy (1869), the term meant "beauty and intelligence." In the 20th century, however, it was applied to personal qualities of friendliness and courtesy and to the general pleasantness of a situation, as in Working with him isn't all sweetness and light, you know. Today it is generally used ironically, indicating lack of trust in a person's seeming friendliness or for a difficult situation.
See also: and, light, sweetness

sweetness and light

or

all sweetness and light

1. If a person is sweetness and light or all sweetness and light, they are very polite and pleasant, often when they are not usually like this. She was sweetness and light, showing everyone what a proper young lady she was. I used to be all sweetness and light on the outside, but inside I would be boiling with rage.
2. If a situation is sweetness and light or all sweetness and light, it is happy and pleasant. He is not suggesting that all is sweetness and light in the area. Note: You can say that a situation is not all sweetness and light to mean that it is unpleasant or has problems. It has not all been sweetness and light between him and the Prime Minister.
See also: and, light, sweetness

sweetness and light

1 social or political harmony. 2 a reasonable and peaceable person.
This is a phrase used by Jonathan Swift in The Battle of the Books ( 1704 ) and taken up by Matthew Arnold in Culture and Anarchy ( 1869 ): ‘The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light’.
See also: and, light, sweetness
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