leading light

leading light

[lee-ding]
noun
an important or influential person: a leading light of the community.

Origin:
1870–75

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
leading light (ˈliːdɪŋ)
 
n
1.  an important or outstanding person, esp in an organization or cause
2.  nautical a less common term for range light

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

leading light

An important or influential individual, as in Jim was a leading light in his community. This expression, alluding to moral guidance, dates from about 1870, but terms such as a shining light have been used for an outstanding person since the first half of the 1500s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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