Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
light into (someone or something)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
1. slang 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. slang Exciting and/or awesome. That party was totally lit, man! You should have been there!
(for some place) Go to cut out (for some place).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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]
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.
green lightpermission 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.