light (up)on

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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

light (up)on someone or something

 
1. Lit. to land on someone or something; to settle on someone or something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) Three butterflies lit on the baby, causing her to shriek with delight. The bees lit on the clover blossom and pulled it to the ground. Her glance lit upon a dress in the store window.
2. Fig. to arrive at something by chance; to happen upon something. The committee lit upon a solution that pleased almost everyone. We just happened to light upon this idea as we were talking to each other.
See also: light, on
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

light on

Also, light upon. Happen upon, come across, discover. For example, John was delighted to light on a new solution to the problem, or We were following the path when suddenly we lit upon a cave. [Second half of 1400s]
See also: light, on
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.
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References in classic literature ?
The picture that I lighted upon when I first opened the book was the one of the monkeys making a chain with their arms across the gulf.
One evening went Zarathustra and his disciples through the forest; and when he sought for a well, lo, he lighted upon a green meadow peacefully surrounded with trees and bushes, where maidens were dancing together.
But what sort of an abode have I lighted upon, Barbara Alexievna?
And suddenly his eye lighted upon a number of weapons which he knew would accomplish the result.
Dropping in at Mr Sampson Brass's office on the previous evening, in the absence of that gentleman and his learned sister, he had lighted upon Mr Swiveller, who chanced at the moment to be sprinkling a glass of warm gin and water on the dust of the law, and to be moistening his clay, as the phrase goes, rather copiously.
``We can bear witness,'' said Gilbert; ``for when we had cleared away the ruin, and by Saint Dunstan's help lighted upon the dungeon stair, we found the runlet of sack half empty, the Jew half dead, and the Friar more than half exhausted, as he calls it.''
From there I should explore every hut upon the moor until I lighted upon the right one.
'As for YOU,' she repeated, catching hold of the little creature in the very act of jumping over a bottle which had just lighted upon the table, 'I'll shake you into a kitten, that I will!'
Newman had come out of the war with a brevet of brigadier-general, an honor which in this case--without invidious comparisons--had lighted upon shoulders amply competent to bear it.
All's one to me.' Turning over the leaves of his book as he muttered this, he soon lighted upon something which attracted his attention, and forgot Peg Sliderskew and everything else in the engrossing interest of its pages.
The Captain had lighted upon her in a half-hundred of corridors and passages.
'Would not inadvertently lighted upon, or accidentally referred to, be better?'
I turned to my favourite, the BBC, and lighted upon Huw Edward's History of Wales.
He would enter history as the ultimate peace president, ushering in a new era in which ''the tide of war is receding.'' The subsequent vacuum having been filled, unfortunately and predictably, by various enemies, adversaries and irredeemables, Obama lighted upon a new idea: We don't just withdraw, we hand the baton.
The Gilberts lighted upon the New England Butt Company of Providence, Rhode Island, placing workers and their tools in a specially constructed room to better film the lighting conditions (thought to be a key factor in efficiency).