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Related to LITS: Lites, Lita, lids
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To manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to doubt their experience of reality. The phrase comes from the 1938 play Gas Light, in which the protagonist attempts to induce insanity in his wife by constantly questioning or doubting her reports of strange events, such as the dimming of the house's gas lights (which has in fact occurred and is related to the husband's nefarious activities). Her husband must be gaslighting her because she suddenly doubts all the evidence that she's found of his indiscretions. The administration has been accused of gaslighting with its repeated attempts to spread disinformation.

green light

1. verb To permit someone or something to proceed. Likened to the green light of a traffic signal. Do you think the production company will green light our film?
2. noun Permission to proceed with some action or task. We're just waiting to get the green light from our managers before we release the latest software update.
See also: green, light


slang Intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Sorry I didn't call you last night—I had some wine, got half-lit, and fell asleep. Smells like pot in here—I guess some people are half-lit.

light (one's) hair on fire

1. To fill one with intense or overwhelming passion, often causing them to behave erratically or wildly. John and I have very different political leanings, so hearing him rant about these issues always lights my hair on fire. I don't want to settle for a lukewarm, casual fling—I want to be with a man who really lights my hair on fire, someone I connect with deeply and passionately.
2. By extension, to behave erratically or wildly. Sure, I used to party and really light my hair on fire as a teenager. But those days are long gone now that I'm a mom.
See also: fire, hair, light, on

light (something) with (something)

1. To ignite or set fire to something with some incendiary means. If you prepare your fire properly with kindling and newspaper, you should be able to light it with a single match. The chain smoker lit a fresh cigarette with the end of his last one.
2. To use something in order to cover or fill some space with light. We had to light the entire house with candles after the electricity went out. Police lit the building with floodlights in order to see every single window.
See also: light

light (up)on

1. To land or rest upon something. The large black crow lighted on the telephone wire high above the street. As he walked into the room, his eyes lighted upon a gorgeous woman wearing a red dress.
2. To arrive at a thought or idea. The engineer lighted on a mathematical solution to the problem he'd been trying to solve all week.
3. To chance or happen upon; to discover by luck or chance. We'd been lost in the woods for hours. Thankfully, we eventually lit upon a small stream that led us to the lake next to the campground.
See also: light

light a fire under (someone or something)

To motivate someone or something to take action. The deadline really lit a fire under us—we never would have gotten all that work done otherwise. Something must have lit a fire under Jenna—she has really started taking her schoolwork seriously.
See also: fire, light

light into (someone or something)

1. To verbally or physically attack or accost someone. He's been lighting into the customer service representative for about half an hour now over our canceled flight. You can't just light into him anytime he doesn't do what we say—he's just a child! The actor lit into the film industry for allowing such abhorrent behavior to go unchecked.
2. To begin or undertake some task or activity at once and with great enthusiasm. We lit into the project as soon as the meeting was over. She always lights into her assignments and has them completed well before anyone else in class.
3. To venture into some place or thing at once or with haste. The prisoner scaled the wall and lit into the night. The adventurer drew her machete and lit into the dense green jungle.
4. To begin eating something with great relish or appetite. The whole table had been lighting into the meal for nearly an hour, and there was still a ton of food left over.
See also: light

light out

To flee hastily; to clear out or depart quickly. We lit out for the safe house as soon as we heard the police sirens in the distance. Everyone else started to light out of there when the manager announced he would be taking volunteers for weekend work.
See also: light, out

light out for (some place)

To flee hastily for a particular destination; to clear out or depart quickly. We lit out for the safe house as soon as we heard the police sirens in the distance.
See also: for, light, out

light the (blue) touch paper

To do something that instigates or initiates some intense or widespread action or reaction. (Touch paper is a strip of paper treated with potassium nitrate that is used as a fuse for explosives.) Primarily heard in UK. Their goal late in the first half seemed to light the blue touch paper for the team—they've shown much more energy and aggression on the pitch since then. The proposed law has lit the touch paper for activists, who have been gathering people and resources to protest it en masse.
See also: light, paper, touch

light the fuse

To do something that instigates or initiates some intense, dangerous, and widespread action or reaction. Many have accused the leader of lighting the fuse for war with his inflammatory remarks. The law seems poised to light the fuse for protests across the nation should it be passed.
See also: fuse, light

light up

1. To brighten or illuminate something. Fireworks lit up the night sky.
2. To become illuminated. The street lamps light up at dusk.
3. To focus a light source on someone or something. The flashlight lit up a stray cat in the bushes.
4. To become noticeably excited or animated at the sight of someone or something. I'm sure she likes you—she just lights up whenever you're around.
5. To cause someone to become noticeably excited or animated. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "light" and "up." I'm sure she likes you—you just light her up whenever you're around.
6. To light something that can be smoked, such as a cigarette. Please don't light up in my new car—I don't want it to smell like smoke.
7. To ignite something. I used a match to light up the pilot on the stove.
8. To become ignited or begin to burn. The firewood still hasn't lit up—what am I doing wrong?
See also: light, up


1. Drunk or intoxicated by drugs. The cocktail hour was more like two hours, so the wedding party was already pretty lit by the time dinner was served.
2. Very exciting or cool; awesome. That party was totally lit, man! You should have been there!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

light out

(for some place) Go to cut out (for some place).
See also: light, out

light out (of some place) (for some place)

Fig. to leave a place in a great hurry for some place. I lit out of there for home as fast as I could. I lit out of there as fast as I could go.
See also: light, out

light someone or something up

to shine lights on someone or something. (See also light something up.) We lit Fred up with the headlights of the car. Light up the stage and let's rehearse.
See also: light, up

light something up

1. to light a fire, a gas burner, etc. I lit the kindling up and soon the fire was going. You light up the stove and get dinner going.
2. to light something to smoke, such as a cigarette, pipe, etc. (See also light someone or something up.) She lit the cigarette up and took in a great breath of the smoke. She lit up a cigarette.
See also: light, up

light up

1. to become brighter. Suddenly, the sky lit up like day. The room lit up as the fire suddenly came back to life.
2. [for someone] to become interested and responsive in something. We could tell from the way Sally lit up that she recognized the man in the picture. She lit up when we told her about our team's success.
See also: light, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

light out

Leave hastily, run away, as in Here comes the teacher-let's light out. This slangy idiom may allude to the nautical sense, that is, to move or lift anything along. [Slang; mid-1800s]
See also: light, out

light up

1. Become or cause to become more animated or cheerful, as in Her laughter lit up the whole room, or His face lit up when he saw her. This expression transfers physical illumination to human moods. Also see lighten up. [Mid-1700s]
2. Start smoking a cigar, cigarette, or pipe, as in The minute he got outside the church he lit up. [Colloquial; mid-1800s]
See also: light, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

light the fuse

If someone or something lights the fuse, they do something which starts something dangerous or exciting. An outbreak of the virus could light the fuse on the world's next pandemic. This event might have lit the fuse which later led to a depressive breakdown. Note: The fuse referred to here is the type that is used to set off a firework or explosive device.
See also: fuse, light
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

green light

permission to go ahead with a project.
The green light referred to is the traffic signal indicating that traffic is free to move forward. Red and green lights were in use from the late 19th century in railway signals, but this figurative use of green light appears to date from the mid 20th century.
1997 New Scientist Zemin even got the green light to buy nuclear power plants.
See also: green, light

light the (or a) fuse (or touchpaper)

do something that creates a tense or exciting situation.
The image here is of lighting a fuse attached to gunpowder, fireworks, etc. in order to cause an explosion. A touchpaper , which is used in the same way as a fuse, is a twist of paper impregnated with saltpetre to make it burn slowly.
1998 Times The rejection of global capitalism may light a touchpaper in all those countries battered by the crisis.
See also: fuse, light
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

light out

To leave someplace hastily: With only 30 minutes to get to the airport, we grabbed our bags and lit out. The robbers lit out of the bank once the alarm went off.
See also: light, out

light up

1. To illuminate or be illuminated: All the neon signs along the street light up at night.
2. To cause something to illuminate or be illuminated: The morning sun lit up the room. The miners lit their headlamps up and descended into the shaft.
3. To begin to burn: The gas burners lit up on the first try.
4. To cause something to burn; ignite something: I lit up a match and started the fire. I'll get some wood and light a fire up.
5. To ignite and begin smoking something, especially a cigarette, cigar, or pipe: I went out to the porch and lit up a cigar. He lit his pipe up with a match. She took a cigarette from the case and lit up.
6. To become animated or cheerful: The children's eyes lit up when they saw the size of the cake.
7. To cause someone or something to become animated or cheerful: The presence of the movie star lit up the room. He was feeling sad, but the surprise party lit his face up.
See also: light, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

green light

n. the signal to go ahead with something; the okay. (see also go-ahead, high sign.) When we get the green light, we’ll start.
See also: green, light


mod. alcohol intoxicated. John was half-lit in no time at all.


1. n. literature, as a school subject. I’m flunking English lit again.
2. and lit up mod. drunk. Todd was lit up like a Christmas tree at our office party. He’s lit and can’t drive home.

lit up

See lit
See also: lit, up
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
See also:
References in classic literature ?
She struck the match on the box, and lit her candle.
Rouletabille very slowly filled his pipe and lit it.
ACE marksman Eoin Kelly fired a massive 1-9 as Limerick Institute of Technology's (LIT) claimed an historic first-ever Fitzgibbon Cup final success at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.
Tipperary star Kelly set LIT on their road to victory with a goal form a 20m free as early as the fourth minute.
LIT led by 1-9 to 2-1 at half-time and when Galway's Aonghus Callanan fired in their second goal 13 minutes into the second half the competition hosts were well on their way to victory.
LIT stretched clear in the third quarter with Callanan's goal.