Trip the light fantastic

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Trip the light fantastic is an interesting idiom that has its roots in a poem written by John Milton in the seventeenth century. We will look at the meaning of the phrase trip the light fantastic, where the term comes from and a few examples of its use in sentences.

To trip the light fantastic means to dance, usually ballroom dancing. The idiom trip the light fantastic has its roots in the poem L’Allegro written by John Milton: “Come, and trip it as you go / On the light fantastic toe.” In this case, the word trip means to dance nimbly and the word fantastic means extremely fancy. Originally, the phrase light fantastic described the word toe, meaning a person’s footwork. The word toe was eventually dropped from the idiom, leaving only trip the light fantastic. This phrase was popularized in an American song written at the end of the 1800s by Charles B Lawler, The Sidewalks of New York: “Boys and Girls together, Me and Mamie O’Rourke, Tripped the light fantastic, On the sidewalks of New York.”


Twenty-four brave souls will trip the light fantastic as part of this event, which will raise much-needed funds for the West Limerick Parish’s community centre. (The Limerick Post)

When Thanksgiving evening rolled around, the pristinely floored room was quickly packed wall-to-wall with a fair amount of ladies and a lopsided number of men who had come to trip the light fantastic, which they did, some until dawn. (The Prescott Daily Courier)

Grimsby’s Strictly Come Dancing stars headed to Blackpool to trip the light fantastic on the famous dancefloor of the world’s most prestigious ballroom. (The Grimsby Telegraph)