A light at the end of the tunnel

A light at the end of the tunnel is an idiom that dates back at least to the 1880s. We will examine the meaning of the common saying a light at the end of the tunnel, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A light at the end of the tunnel means that one can see a cause for hope that a bad situation will end; a difficult job will soon be finished. The phrase a light at the end of the tunnel is a noun phrase referring to the hope for an end to a difficult time and is often expressed as see the light at the end of the tunnel. The image is of one passing through a dark space toward illumination. The phrase is found in old newspapers and other publications in the 1880s as a metaphor for hope. The phrase a light at the end of the tunnel was popularized by President John Kennedy in the mid-1960s in reference to the conflict in Vietnam.

Examples

Pfizer’s vaccine announcement gave the equity market the vision and hope that some semblance of “normal” was closer than previously assumed; perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel. (Forbes Magazine)

“They’ve got a light at the end of the tunnel and they know what we’re training for now, whereas before, it was a world of uncertainty for all sorts of different reasons.” (The Nashville Post)

Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, to use another cliché, as the California Coastal Commission approved a permit to replace and reconfigure Dana Point Harbor. (The Log Newspaper)

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