Light Idioms

It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. An English proverb

What do you associate light with? Love, knowledge, wisdom, or something else? Such associations inevitably generate idioms, which we’ll look at in this article. Read on if you wish you to learn a few…

SWEETNESS AND LIGHT

Do you think life in the limelight is easy? Many of those who have their names up in lights seem to disagree. It’s little wonder celebrities lament having no privacy, being constantly judged and attracting too many fake friends. Those are not the only reasons stardom is not all sweetness and light. Being famous can attract stalkers, whose obsession can turn into threats and even physical harm. So, next time you hog the limelight and dream of being rich and famous, think of the disadvantages – celebrities’ dirty linen coming to light, paparazzi bringing it there, and then maybe you’ll see it all in a different light.

  • in the limelight – in a situation in which you are getting a lot of interest and attention from the newspapers, television, etc. (“in/under the spotlight” has a similar meaning: 1) They’re in the media spotlight both nationally and internationally. 2) Julia Roberts is back in the spotlight.)
  • to have one’s name (up) in lights – to be a famous/successful performer
  • not all sweetness and light – (of a situation or a relationship) not as pleasant as it appears to be
  • to hog the limelight – to want to be the centre of attention
  • to come to light – to be revealed
  • to bring sth. to light – to reveal sth.
  • to see sth. in a different/new light – to see/understand sth. in a different/new way

LIGHT OF MY LIFE

Jennifer was truly the light of my life. From the day I saw her till the day she passed away last summer, she was the only one for me. No matter what hardships we encountered during our 30-year marriage, the light in her eyes always showed me how much she loved and cared for me. Come to think of it, it always was my light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly, I often failed to appreciate what I had until it was too late to stop and smell the roses. I guess the light dawns on you only when it’s too late.

  • the light of one’s life – the person that someone loves most
  • a light in one’s eyes – a particular feeling that someone’s eyes seem to express
  • light at the end of the tunnel – something that makes you think that a difficult situation will improve (= light on the horizon: Despite the growing light on the horizon, the world seemed to have stopped.)
  • the light dawns on you – if light dawns on you, you suddenly understand or realize something

OTHER LIGHT IDIOMS

  • to go out like a light – to go to sleep very quickly or to become unconscious very quickly: I didn’t even hear you come in last night – I was so tired that I went out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow. (Further reading: “Sleep Vocabulary”)
  • in (the) light of sth. – because of sth.: In light of this new evidence, we are reopening the investigation.
  • to see the light of day – (of a plan, idea, rule, etc.) to be produced or made available to people, often after difficulties: That document is so sensitive that I guarantee it will never see the light of day.
  • throw/shed/cast light on sth. – to provide an explanation for a situation or problem, or information that makes it easier to understand: The discovery of the dinosaur skeleton has thrown/shed/cast light on why they became extinct.
  • green light – permission to start doing sth.: They finally got the green light for their project.

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