Word Origin & History
"brightness," O.E. leht, earlier leoht, from W.Gmc. *leukhtam (cf. O.Fris. liacht, M.Du. lucht, Ger. Licht), from PIE *leuk- "light, brightness" (cf. Skt. rocate "shines;" Arm. lois "light," lusin "moon;" Gk. leukos "bright, shining, white;" L. lucere "to shine," lux "light," lucidus "clear;" O.C.S.
luci "light;" Lith. laukas "pale;" Welsh llug "gleam, glimmer;" O.Ir. loche "lightning," luchair "brightness;" Hittite lukezi "is bright"). The -gh- was an Anglo-Fr. scribal attempt to render the O.E. hard -h- sound, which has since disappeared. The figurative spiritual sense was in O.E.; the sense of "mental illumination" is first recorded mid-15c. Meaning "something used for igniting" is from 1680s. The related verb is from O.E. lyhtan (cf. O.S. liohtian, Ger. leuchten, Goth. liuhtjan).
"not heavy," from O.E. leoht, from P.Gmc. *lingkhtaz (cf. O.N. lettr, Swed. lätt, O.Fris., M.Du. licht, Ger. leicht, Goth. leihts), from PIE base *le(n)gwh- "light, easy, agile, nimble" (cf. L. levis "light;" see lever
). The notion in make light of (1520s) is of "unimportance."
Alternative spelling lite, the darling of advertisers, is first recorded 1962. Light-skirts "woman of easy virtue" is attested from 1590s.
"touch down," from O.E. lihtan "to alight," from P.Gmc. *linkhtijan, lit. "to make light," from *lingkhtaz "not heavy" (see light
(adj.)). Apparently the ground sense is "to dismount a horse, etc., and thus relieve it of one's weight." To light out "leave hastily" is 1870,
from a nautical meaning "move out, move heavy objects," of unknown origin but perhaps belonging to this word.