One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
plural nounEnglish Law
treated as singular The right of access to light of a property, established by custom and used to prevent the construction of buildings on adjacent property which would obstruct such access.
- ‘On the other hand, the Court ought to be very careful not to allow an action for the protection of ancient lights to be used as a means of extorting money.’
- ‘Thus, it is regarded from this account that the first lightstructures could be described as ` fire-towers’ and, indeed, many ancient lights are referred to with this term.’
- ‘Tom associates England with ‘ancient lights’, a phrase that for him resonates with the mythic and the mystic.’
- ‘The very settled approach in the United States is to reject such claims (England has a doctrine of ancient lights which was firmly rejected here).’
Mid 18th century: from lights meaning ‘light from the sky’. In England the sign ‘Ancient Lights’ was often placed on a house, adjacent to a site where a high building might be erected.
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