Main definitions of lighten in US English:

: lighten1lighten2

lighten1

verb

  • 1Make or become lighter in weight, pressure, or severity.

    with object ‘efforts to lighten the burden of regulation’
    no object ‘the strain had lightened’
    • ‘To make matters worse, Ellen wasn't lightening the homework load one bit.’
    • ‘We may seek to lighten the burden of all parents once they become parents.’
    • ‘As a kid it was a trick to add some ginger ale to lighten up the flavour.’
    • ‘We hope this will speed up response time, enhance community feeling, and lighten our workload.’
    • ‘The menu has been conceived along American or lightened Continental lines, and despite an occasional, surprising flaw, the food is generally well prepared.’
    • ‘A regular exercise program will lighten your load as well as strengthen your back.’
    • ‘When they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.’
    make lighter, lessen, reduce, decrease, diminish, moderate, soften, ease, temper
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    1. 1.1 Make or become more cheerful or less serious.
      with object ‘she attempted a joke to lighten the atmosphere’
      no object ‘Robbie felt her spirits lighten a little’
      • ‘I guess they were trying to lighten up the atmosphere… or something like that.’
      • ‘But when you know that I'm here, your mood lightens up.’
      • ‘As usual, there was a large group of rowdy sailors surrounding the table, which actually helped to lighten up the heavy atmosphere.’
      • ‘His expression lightened for a millisecond before it dropped back into the deepening gloom.’
      • ‘Was Tom right to take the matter so seriously, or should he lighten up a little?’
      • ‘But Dad, he seriously needs to lighten up, maybe get a girlfriend or something.’
      • ‘Even in serious times like these, they had the strength to joke around and lighten up the air a bit.’
      • ‘The drapes were opened to allow the late afternoon sunshine in and lighten the atmosphere.’
      • ‘Now, he smiled when he saw her eyes lighten up a bit and her head raise.’
      • ‘Once he was gone, I felt the atmosphere lighten up and Coach nodded in satisfaction and left too.’
      • ‘Is this normal, or should I ask her to lighten up?’
      • ‘His mood was lightening up, the adrenaline from battle beginning to dissipate to a level he could control.’
      • ‘All too often I hear that people ‘just need to lighten up’ or ‘if it offends them, they shouldn't read it.’’
      • ‘When someone was talking about something deep or intense he would joke around to lighten up the mood.’
      • ‘As it turned out we had been booked as comic relief to try and lighten up the turgidly dull atmosphere in studio 1.’
      • ‘He had all but forgotten what a smile was until he saw Maria give him one of hers, how it seemed to lighten up her face and spirit.’
      • ‘Sometimes a laugh is OK, though, so lighten up, and enjoy the joke!’
      • ‘I told him and his face lightened up a bit.’
      • ‘It ought to cause even the sour of spirit (guilty as charged) to lighten up.’
      • ‘He smiles as if he's cracked some joke in order to lighten up the mood.’
      cheer, cheer up, brighten, gladden, hearten, perk up, lift, ginger up, enliven, boost, buoy, buoy up, elate, inspire, uplift, sweeten, revive, restore, revitalize, stimulate
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Pronunciation

lighten

/ˈlītn//ˈlaɪtn/

Main definitions of lighten in US English:

: lighten1lighten2

lighten2

verb

  • 1Make or become lighter or brighter.

    no object ‘the sky began to lighten in the east’
    with object ‘she had lightened her hair’
    • ‘The sky began to lighten, though it was still dark.’
    • ‘The sky was gradually lightening and the peaceful suburb was beginning to stir.’
    • ‘The darkness began to lighten into a pale yellow, getting brighter as the seconds passed.’
    • ‘The sky was beginning to lighten, and he felt a tingling on his skin, but there was plenty of time for what was to unfold.’
    • ‘The sky began to lighten and my hiding place was no longer quite as subtle, so I moved to behind a bush in the same yard.’
    • ‘Carol has indulged her love of chandeliers; walls have been lightened and brightened; and the Pressdees have exposed a super spiral staircase at the back of the tearoom.’
    • ‘He inhaled with short, deep breathes, and the pigmentation of his skin lightened up to its previous color.’
    • ‘It can be difficult to lighten dark hair with lemon juice, as it tends to leave orange streaks in hair.’
    • ‘Soon enough the sky began to lighten, the dawn chorus started up, and a heavy dew began to form.’
    • ‘Apparently, when she saw the pictures of herself standing next to Liz, she was so dismayed by her own appearance she lightened her hair, went on a crash diet and started wearing elevator lifts in her shoes.’
    • ‘In this case, even with the gamma correction set, the picture is still a bit dark, so I turned off the gamma correction and set the contrast and brightness in order to lighten it up.’
    • ‘I could watch the last star fade as the sky lightened and birds began to chatter amongst themselves about the coming day.’
    • ‘The teal stripe beneath each eye lightened to his skin color briefly before returning to their regular shade.’
    • ‘As the sky began to lighten in the east, humans and lizards moved quickly through the trees, wearing earthen colors and staying as low as possible to the ground.’
    • ‘Try lightening your hair to within just two to three shades of your natural hair colour so roots are less visible.’
    • ‘The sky was beginning to lighten in the east, which meant they were running out of time.’
    • ‘Lazily, Bren watched slumped backward into the cool, itching grass, hands entwined behind once bright hair that had been lightened by long hours under a summer sun.’
    • ‘The bleaches lighten and brighten the wood and remove mildew stains.’
    • ‘These techniques lighten and brighten the living space, and can also focus the eye toward a spectacular view down a fairway or across a lake.’
    • ‘The sky was lightening to a sort of violet blue; dawn was near.’
    • ‘As she played, she watched the yard lighten up gradually.’
    become lighter, grow brighter, brighten
    make lighter, make brighter, brighten, light up, illuminate, cast light on, shed light on, throw light on, shine on, irradiate, flood with light, floodlight
    whiten, make white, make whiter, bleach, peroxide, blanch, make pale, make paler, remove colour from, fade, wash out, decolour, decolorize
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    1. 1.1archaic with object Enlighten spiritually.
      ‘now the Lord lighten thee, thou art a great fool’
  • 2it lightens", "it is lightening, etc.rare no object Emit flashes of lightning; flash with lightning.

    ‘it thundered and lightened’
    emit lightning, flash lightning
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Usage

Years ago, the phrase it is lightening (as in ‘thundering and lightening’) was contracted to it is light'ning, which eventually became further shortened to it is lightning. In modern use, the word lightning stands on its own as a noun (did you see that lightning?) and a verb (it looks as if it's going to start lightning). Today, in the context of electrical storms, lightening would likely be considered a misspelling of lightning, rather than a variant spelling

Pronunciation

lighten

/ˈlītn//ˈlaɪtn/