• IPA: /ˈlaɪ.tən/

lighten (lightens, present participle lightening; past and past participle lightened)

  1. (transitive) To make brighter or clearer; to illuminate.
    to lighten an apartment with lamps or gas; to lighten the streets
    • 1667, John Dryden, Annus Mirabilis (poem), London: Henry Herringman, stanza 231, p. 59,
      A Key of fire ran all along the shore,
      And lighten’d all the river with the blaze:
  2. (intransitive) To become brighter or clearer; to brighten.
  3. (intransitive, archaic) To burst forth or dart, as lightning; to shine with, or like, lightning; to flash.
    • 1595, George Peele, The Old Wives’ Tale, The Malone Society Reprints, 1908, line 500,
      Enter the Conjurer; it lightens and thunders […]
    • c. 1599, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (play), Act I, Scene 3,
      […] this dreadful night,
      That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
      As doth the lion.
  4. (transitive) To emit or disclose in, or as if in, lightning; to flash out, like lightning.
    • c. 1595, William Shakespeare, Richard II (play), Act III, Scene 3,
      […] behold his eye,
      As bright as is the eagle’s, lightens forth
      Controlling majesty:
  5. To illuminate with knowledge; to enlighten.
    • 1599, John Davies (poet), “Of the Soule of man, and the immortalitie thereof” in Nosce Teipsum. This Oracle Expounded in Two Elegies, London: John Standish, p. 10,
      O Light which mak’st the Light, which makes the Day,
      Which setst the Eye without and Mind within,
      Lighten my spirit with one cleare heavenly ray,
      Which now to view it selfe doth first begin.