Lightbulb moment

The term lightbulb moment is an idiom with an interesting origin. We will examine the meaning of the common saying lightbulb moment, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A lightbulb moment is a moment of sudden inspiration or a moment of realization. The invention of the lightbulb was so revolutionary, for a century the lightbulb has symbolized having an idea. Interestingly, this symbolism was first expressed in American comic strips. Felix the Cat is credited as being the first comic strip to use the lightbulb to symbolize conceiving an idea, drawn in thought bubbles linked to characters in the strip. Lightbulb is compound word and may be seen spelled variously as light bulb, light-bulb, and lightbulb. The trend may be toward becoming a closed compound word, which is one without a space or a hyphen, but the idiom may be rendered as light bulb moment, light-bulb moment, or lightbulb moment.


“It’s that lightbulb moment when a student goes ‘I know what you’re talking about, I just felt it.’ Learning comes from experience, you can’t read a book and go out and do it.” (The Gettysburg Times)

He had a “lightbulb moment” when he attempted to book a table at a bar and staff told him he couldn’t due to the government’s rule of six. (Yorkshire Evening Post)

To hear an authority figure affirm her skills in reading and writing represented a lightbulb moment for Yang; those were skills she knew would be important for college. (The Sahan Journal)