light bulb

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A light bulb.

Alternative forms[edit]


light + bulb, from Middle French bulbe, from Latin bulbus (bulb, onion), from Ancient Greek βολβός (bolbós, plant with round swelling on underground stem).


light bulb (plural light bulbs)

  1. An evacuated glass bulb containing a metal filament which is heated by electrical resistance to produce light.
  2. (by extension) An article that resembles such a bulb and converts electricity to light by any process.
    a fluorescent light bulb or an LED light bulb
  3. (figuratively) Used in reference to the sudden arrival of a realization, an inspiration, an idea, or the like.
    • 1949, in Forbes (magazine), volume 64,[1] page 18:
      Figuratively speaking, a light-bulb flashed over Galvin's head early this year, and in March–along []
    • 2010, Sandy Abrams, Your Idea, Inc., Abrams Media, ISBN 978-1-59869-909-8, page xi:
      A light bulb went off in my head as I had an incredible idea for a beauty product.


Derived terms[edit]