A limelight can be either a bright light used in theater that uses lime and a lens, the light created by that instrument, or it can also be figurative when media or the general public is focused on a person to that he or she is the center of attention.
The noun can be plural, but is rarely used that way. The most common phrase is in the limelight for the definition of being in the public’s eye.
A spotlight can be a light in theater that is circular and follows an actor or performer around the stage so he or she is always in the light and can be seen by the audience. This can also be figurative as a person or issue that is always in the forefront of people’s minds or constantly under consideration.
Spotlight can also be a verb to mean lit up by a spotlight or constantly emphasized.
Cara Delevingne stole the limelight at the first photocall for new film Paper Towns, arriving in a checked cropped top and matching shorts. [London Evening Standard]
Dylan’s father, Jamie, filmed his son’s moment in the limelight and can be heard whooping and cheering along in the clip. [The Telegraph]
China’s economic boom has propelled the nation into the global spotlight. [The New York Times]
Intel’s acquisition of custom chipmaker Altera spotlights the flexibility and capability enterprises will need to address future computing workloads, especially those created by Internet of Things (IoT) devices, according to one industry veteran. [Forbes]