Advertisement

Lightening vs. lightning

Lightening is a present participle corresponding to the verb lighten, where to lighten is to make light or lighter. For example, we might say that a person who has been losing weight is lightening, or that an aging man’s hair is lightening to gray.

Lightning refers to an abrupt, discontinuous natural electric discharge in the atmosphere—i.e., the flash of light associated with thunder.

Examples

Lightening

Advertisement

Besides lightening the mood with bright colours, fun shapes and pretty patterns, they provide endless entertainment for kids—and me. [Hanna Herald]

How’s about lightening up on the young man and get back to top-rated journalism. [letter to The Union of Grass Valley]

And this is hardly the first time Beyonce’s faced criticism for lightening her hair. [The Stir]

Lightning

A Jet Blue crew said a plane headed to Logan Airport was struck by lightning Friday. [WCVB]

The game opened with the teams exchanging lightning-fast 80-yard touchdown drives. [Plain Dealer]

Advertisement

Check Your Text

Comments

  1. John Neese says:

    I frequently hear people using “lightning” as a verb during episodes of bad weather. I would never write it this way, but it seems to be a rather common colloquialism here in Texas.

    “Y’all kids need to come inside, it’s lightning out there!”

    • Obviously a regionalism. I’ll refrain from suggesting that it comes from the dumbing down (there’s a phrase to play with, Mr. Grammarist) of school textx by the state’s Department of so-called Education.

      Actually, I won’t refrain – but the two issues are most likely directly unrelated.

    • It’s actually pretty common all over the South and has been for 60 years. It is how we describe a storm with lots of lightning strikes.

Speak Your Mind

About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist