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See also: gas light and gas-light



A gaslight (noun sense 1) being lit by a lamplighter in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1953.

Etymology 1[edit]

From gas (flammable gaseous hydrocarbon or hydrocarbon mixture used as a fuel) +‎ light.[1]


gaslight (countable and uncountable, plural gaslights) (Britain, historical)

  1. A lamp which operates by burning piped illuminating gas (or town gas).
    Synonym: gas lamp (US)
    • [1871], J[oseph] Sheridan Le Fanu, “Captain Lake Looks in at Nightfall”, in Wylder’s Hand: [] (Select Library of Fiction; 178), new edition, London: Chapman and Hall, [], OCLC 11716605, page 118:
      He was renovated and refreshed, his soul was strengthened, and his countenance waxed cheerful, and he began to feel like himself again, under the brown canopy of metropolitan smoke, and among the cabs and gaslights.
    • 1904, Yogi Ramacharaka [pseudonym; William Walker Atkinson], “Fresh Air”, in Hatha Yoga: Or The Yogi Philosophy of Physical Well-being [], Chicago, Ill.: Yogi Publication Society [], OCLC 910364926, page 222:
      Open the windows once in awhile and give the air a chance to circulate in and out. In the evening, do not forget that the lamps and gaslights are using up a goodly supply of oxygen also—so freshen things up a little, once in awhile.
  2. The light produced by the burning gas in such a lamp.
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Etymology 2[edit]

From the 1938 stage play Gas Light by the English playwright and novelist Patrick Hamilton (1904–1962), and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which a husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment.[2]


gaslight (third-person singular simple present gaslights, present participle gaslighting, simple past and past participle gaslighted or gaslit)

  1. (transitive) To manipulate (someone) psychologically such that they question their own memory, perception, and sanity, thereby evoking in them cognitive dissonance and low self-esteem.
    Synonym: head-game
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See also[edit]


  1. ^ gaslight, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, March 2012; “gaslight, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  2. ^ gaslight, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, December 2004; “gaslight, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

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