Middle English Dictionary Entry

light n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) Light as a substance that illuminates objects or colors, light as seen or present in a condition where vision is possible; lightes leme; (b) light as one of God's creations; (c) the property of light inherent in the physical composition of a substance; potencial ~.
(a) The light emanating from the sun, moon, planets, stars, etc.; the light or flame of a lamp or candle; blaze of a fire; -- sometimes pl.; also fig. the loved one occupying a house; yeven ~, to emit light; shine on or for (sb.); ~ to, illuminate (sb. or sth.); (b) daylight; ~ of dai, the time of daylight, dawn, daybreak; also, day; bi (the) ~, bi ~ of dai, in daytime, by daylight; (c) in asseverations: bi this ~.
The light issuing from, or provided by, truth, righteousness, knowledge, wisdom, grace, etc.; ~ of conninge (grace, resoun), etc.; also, the state of intellectual enlightenment or excellence.
(a) Intense brightness, brilliance; the dazzle or luster of a precious stone or metal; leme and ~; leme of ~ [see leme]; (b) the radiance or glory of Jesus, the Virgin, God or his countenance, angels; light of heaven or paradise, etc.; -- sometimes pl.; (c) aungel of ~ [cp. aungel 1b. (b)]; contre of ~, heaven.
(a) A source of light; a candle, torch, lamp, etc.; a lighted signal; a heavenly body; -- sometimes coll.; also fig.; (b) a lamp or set of candles burned in church commemorating a festival or saint, in front of the cross, maintained by a guild, used in religious processions, etc.; -- sometimes coll.; (c) one of the candleholders on a candlestick or candelabrum; (d) fig. a distinguished or eminent person.
(a) An opening in a wall through which light may penetrate; (b) any of the vertical sections between the mullions of a window [cp. dai 11.].
The faculty of sight; the light of the eye; pl. eyes; lifes ~, life, the light of life; -- said also of a beloved person or object [see also lif la. (b)].
(a) The condition where there is light; the state of being in public view or sight; in ~, ?clearly, plainly; comen in (to the) ~, to come into public view, appear; be revealed; comen to the ~ of oure knouleche, be disclosed to us, become known; (b) a lighted place, a place where there is daylight; the realm of light, heaven; also (in phrases only) the lighted space to be occupied or traversed by a person: stonden in ~, to take (someone's) place; obstruct or block (someone's) way; (c) a phenomenon or instance of brightness, a bright light, a flash of light, a beam of the sun; (d) lightning; ~ of thonder; leveninge ~.
(a) Elucidation; yeven ~, to explain, elucidate; (b) guidance; inspiration; yeven ~ to, to guide (sb.); (c) a source of inspiration, guide, shining light; one who enlightens; ~ of the world, Christ's disciples.
Fig. (a) Power; (b) joy, happiness; (c) ?safety, preservation.
(a) Fig. God, Christ, the Virgin Mary, or?any supreme being; also, the faithful or righteous; ~ and leme; ~ of grace (hele), etc.; (b) the divine light or presence; salvation, grace, truth, spiritual enlightenment, righteousness, virtue; eche ~, eternal bliss; yeven ~, to enlighten (sb.), impart spiritual insight (to sb.); (c) insight, perspicacity; also, the capacity for rational understanding or judgment; natural ~; (d) fader of light(es, lord of ~, God; lanterne of ~, the Virgin Mary; piler of ~, St. Peter; child (son) of ~, the faithful, the righteous, a believer.
Cpds. and combs. (a) ~ barn (bere, berend, berer), the angel Lucifer; (b) ~ bem, a ray of light; ~ fat, a lamp or lantern; ~ fates mouth, an epithet of the apostle Philip; an apostle; (c) ~ makere (yevere), a source of light; a heavenly body; (d) ~ man, one who collects the ~ silver for the church; ~ silver, a rent for providing lights in the church; (e) ~ yeving, lighting, illumination; (f) candel ~ [see candel 2. (c)]; dai ~, daies ~, even ~, q.v.; herte ~ [see herte 2a. (c)]; heven ~ [see heven 7. (d)]; laumpe ~ [see laumpe]; mone ~, morwe-tide ~ [see mone, morwe]; oure ladi ~ [see ladie 4. (f)]; rode ~, sterre ~, q.v.; taper ~, thonder ~, torche ~, tortis ~, trendel ~ [see taper, thonder, torche, tortis, trendel].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • ?c1425 Chauliac(2) (Paris angl.25)538/14 : The veynes þe whiche ben late blode in men ben 33..In the hede ben xiii: two behynde þe eres, two in þe corners of the eyȝen, two holwe veynes, and two of þe hattrelle, þe veyne of þe forhede, þe veyne of þe liȝte [*Ch.(1): one of þe puppe; L pup(p)is], þe veyne of the nose, þe two veynes vnder þe tonge.
  • Note: Though the Latin (correctly rendered by Ch.(1) [see MED pǒupe n.(2), sense (b): "the rear part of the head."]) should mean "the posterior part of the head, occiput," and the corresponding vein, veine of the ~, "the occipital vein," the translator's use of 'light' in this circumstance "remains unexplained" (Norri). Perhaps the Ch.(2) translator was faced with slightly variant text, or misunderstood 'pupis' to mean 'eye' or 'pupil of the eye' (i.e. Latin 'pupula' or 'pupa' (post-classical, Lewis & Short)), the more readily as the word appears in a sequence between 'nose' and 'forehead': "vena frontis, vena pupis, vena nasi." If so, the example is not so extraordinary and belongs to sense 5.: "The faculty of sight..pl. eyes."
    Note: See J. Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. light: "In the sense 'lungs,' substantival use of adj. light 'of little weight'. "