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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) (British, historical)

  1. A lamp which operates by burning piped illuminating gas (or town gas).
    Synonym: (US) gas lamp
    • [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, 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, 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.
    • 1887, Horatio Alger, Jr., “An Unexpected Engagement”, in Frank Fowler, the Cash Boy (The Alger Series for Boys), New York, N.Y.: A[lbert] L[evi] Burt, →OCLC, page 86:
      A year since I strained my eyes very severely, and have never dared to use them much since by gaslight.
Alternative forms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

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] For more details, see also Gaslighting § Etymology on Wikipedia.


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

English Wikipedia has an article on:
  1. (chiefly transitive) To manipulate someone such that they doubt their own memory, perceptions of reality, or sanity, typically for malevolent reasons.
    • 1962, "The Journal Pre-Views Tonight's TV." Jersey Journal [Jersey City, NJ]. February 12, 1962: 12 col 6, describing the plot of the episode "Who Is Sylvia" of the television show Surfside 6:
      Sylvia is a beautiful woman whose business-partner husband is "gaslighting" her. (That means he's trying to drive her crazy.)
    • 1963, "TV Scout." Daily Press [Utica, NY]. November 18, 1963: 24 col 2, describing the plot of the episode "The August Teahouse of Quint McHale" of McHale's Navy:
      [The men of McHale's Navy] decide to "gaslight" the already befuddled captain, to convince him he is going insane.
    • 1964, in an argument between the characters Jenny and Charley in William Goldman's novel Boys and Girls Together, page 564:
      "You're gaslighting me, for chrissakes."
    • 1967, Stan Freberg (comedian), on his "most excruciating experience with a producer" as interviewed in Humphrey, Hal. "'Dramatic' Role Played By Freberg." The Oregonian [Portland, OR]. February 11, 1967: II 3 col 3.
      I came home before he could gaslight me like Boyer did Bergman in the movie.
    • 2016, Tate Taylor (movie director), in the commentary version of The Girl on the Train (2016 film), discussing a train scene seventy-six minutes into the movie:
      Just in the nick of time Rachel finds out the truth about her life from Martha. [...] This is how I wanted to show the gaslighting that had been going on Rachel's entire life.
    • 2021 September 28, Alexander Brown, An Ethics of Political Communication, Routledge, →ISBN:
      In fact, political scholars have written a great deal about Trump's gaslighting of the American people on various fronts. For example, Duca (2016) describes Trump's gaslighting as only beginning when he has initially lied or misled about issues—such as falsely claiming that the United States is the highest-taxed country in the world or that crime is on the rise. As Duca puts it: 'The gaslighting part comes in when the fictions are disputed by the media and Trump doubles down on his lies before painting himself as a victim [] '
    Synonym: head-game
Usage notes[edit]
  • Loose use of the term, to include unintentional or inadvertent gaslighting or even just any dishonest, biased efforts at persuasion, or the putting down of someone, have contributed to degradation of its usefulness in describing the more specific type of behavior. For more details, see Wikipedia's section on excessively broad use of the term "gaslighting".
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ gaslight, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2012; gaslight, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ gaslight, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2004; gaslight, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]