light year
  • (RP), IPA: /ˈlaɪt.jɪə/
  • (America) enPR: lītyîr, IPA: /ˈlaɪt.jɪɹ/
  • (Wales) IPA: /ˈlaɪt.jɜː/

light year (plural light years)

  1. (astronomy) A unit of length (abbreviation ly; equal to just under 10 trillion kilometres (1016 metres)) equal to the distance light travels in one Julian year; used to measure extremely large distances.
  2. (only in plural, figurative, informal) A very long way.
    The marathon runner in the lead is light years ahead of the one at the back.
  3. (only in plural, figurative, informal) A very long time.
    Some of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions were light years ahead of their time.
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