sweetness light

sweetness and light

noun
1.
extreme or excessive pleasantness or amiability.
2.
decorous charm combined with intelligence.

Origin:
1695–1705

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Collins
World English Dictionary
sweetness and light
 
n
an apparently affable reasonableness
 
[C19: adopted by Matthew Arnold from Swift's Battle of the Books (1704)]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

sweetness and light definition


A phrase popularized by the nineteenth-century English author Matthew Arnold; it had been used earlier by Jonathan Swift. According to Arnold, sweetness and light are two things that a culture should strive for. “Sweetness” is moral righteousness, and “light” is intellectual power and truth. He states that someone “who works for sweetness and light united, works to make reason and the will of God prevail.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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