I've been mooching around a discussion board on a personal finance website, and when people have been talking about getting themselves out of debt they often refer to the "lightbulb moment" (basically, when they pull their head out of the sand and start tackling the root cause of their problem).

Now, this has got me wondering. Obviously this particular metaphor has its origin in the typical cartoon thing of a lightbulb appearing above someone's head when they've had an idea or realised what's going on. But, when and how did this metaphor originate? Does it have a pre-lightbulb equivalent?

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
1 2
I've been mooching around a discussion board on a personal finance website, and when people have been talking about getting ... idea or realised what's going on. But, when and how did this metaphor originate? Does it have a pre-lightbulb equivalent?

If you were better- read, Endless, you might remember a chap called Saul, a moneyman on his way to Syria.
I've been mooching around a discussion board on a personal finance website, and when people have been talking about getting ... idea or realised what's going on. But, when and how did this metaphor originate? Does it have a pre-lightbulb equivalent?

I have an illustrated version of Genesis
in which God has 'a lightbulb moment'.
You can't go back much further than that,
Jan
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
J. J. Lodder filted:
I have an illustrated version of Genesis in which God has 'a lightbulb moment'.

Glory!...
You've just inspired another cartoon I'll probably never get around to drawing...Edison gets his brilliant idea, symbolized by someone holding a candle over his head..r
I've been mooching around a discussion board on a personal ... did this metaphor originate? Does it have a pre-lightbulb equivalent?

If you were better- read, Endless, you might remember a chap called Saul, a moneyman on his way to Syria.

Ah, yes, the Damascene moment. And there's "Eureka," Archimedes, and his bath. No bright light there, but an exclamation of discovery. See, for example:
http://www.bartleby.com/81/5969.html
I wonder how old "it came to him in a flash" would be. And I wonder whether the original intent was brightness or merely shortness of time.

Being bright, being brilliant what is this connection between mental process and light? Maybe it's like "illuminating" and "casting light on the subject" it's easier to understand what's going on when you're "not in the dark."

Best wishes Donna Richoux
Being bright, being brilliant what is this connection between mental process and light? Maybe it's like "illuminating" and"casting light on the subject" it's easier to understand what's going on when you're "not in the dark."

I think so: consider "lucidity", and, among countless other light-metaphors, "illustration", which, after all, has nothing to do with lustration.

Mike.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I wonder if we'd be discussing this if "to see" and "to understand" weren't synonymous.

Came the dawn. (No, no new insight, I just had to say it.) I'm trying to turn your sentence around ... and other mental processes. That might show if it's just a series of coincidences in English, or something more universal.

Do we count 'a Light to lighten the Gentiles' (Nunc Dimittis, referring back to 'a light to the gentiles' in Isaiah), or even 'Fiat Lux' (Genesis) in a metaphorical sense?

Paul
In bocca al Lupo!
Came the dawn. (No, no new insight, I just had ... a series of coincidences in English, or something more universal.

Do we count 'a Light to lighten the Gentiles' (Nunc Dimittis, referring back to 'a light to the gentiles' in Isaiah), or even 'Fiat Lux' (Genesis) in a metaphorical sense?

Ah! A lustre (=AmE luster (not the Carter kind though)) enters the discussion.
Now, this has got me wondering. Obviously this particular metaphor has its origin in the typical cartoon thing of a lightbulb appearing abovesomeone's head when they've had an idea or realised what's going on. But, when and how did this metaphor originate? Does it have a pre-lightbulb equivalent?

You've just inspired another cartoon I'll probably never get around to drawing...Edison gets his brilliant idea, symbolized by someone holding a candle over his head.
I am sure I have seen that. I don't remember if it was Edison but who else would it have been?
Back to the original question, I note that "a bright idea" was in use in 1870. (Punchinello, June 11, p168)
Also on the same page is "high-strung", but that is probably only a joke suggesting placement.
I am guessing that the pre-lightbulb equivalent was a shaft of light through the clouds. Or maybe lightning.
There is 'brain storm', when did that enter the picture? Maybe there were gleams in the eyes.

Richard Maurer To reply, remove half
Sunnyvale, California of a homonym of a synonym for also.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Show more