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Alternative forms[edit]


  • IPA(key): /ˈlaɪtnəs/
  • Hyphenation: light‧ness

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English lightnes, lightnesse,[1] from Old English līhtnes, lȳhtnys (enlightening, illumination), from Proto-West Germanic *liuhtinassī; equivalent to light (to make bright, illuminate, verb) +‎ -ness (suffix forming nouns). Cognate with Old High German liuhtnissi (illumination, enlightening).


lightness (countable and uncountable, plural lightnesses)

  1. (uncountable) the condition of being illuminated
  2. (uncountable) the relative whiteness or transparency of a colour
  3. (countable) The product of being illuminated.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English lightnes, lightnesse,[2] from Old English *lēohtnes (lightness) (compare Old English lēohtmōdnes (lightness, literally light-moodedness), līhtingnes (lightness, alleviation)); equivalent to light (not heavy, adjective) +‎ -ness (suffix forming nouns). Cognate with Middle Low German luchtnisse, lüchtnisse (lightness, frivolity, joyfulness).


lightness (uncountable)

  1. The state of having little (or less) weight, or little force.
    • 1960 January, “The Swindon Type "4" diesel-hydraulic units”, in Trains Illustrated, page 39:
      The unique chassis design is largely the secret of the lightness of the locomotive.
  2. Agility of movement.
  3. Freedom from worry.
  4. Levity, frivolity; inconsistency.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC:
      , New York 2001, p.75:
      Seneca [] accounts it a filthy lightness in men, every day to lay new foundations of their life, but who doth otherwise?


  1. ^ lightnes(se, n.(1).”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2018, retrieved 8 November 2019.
  2. ^ lightnes(se, n.(2).”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2018, retrieved 8 November 2019.