What does the idiom "make light of" mean?

The phrase make light of is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of make light of.

Meaning of "make light of"

Meaning

The idiom 'make light of' is used to refer to to make something seem less important or serious than it really is. This phrase can be used to express an attitude of casual nonchalance towards something that should normally be taken more seriously.

Etymology

The phrase 'make light of' originated in the 16th century. It was derived from the combination of two separate words: 'make' and 'light'. The verb 'make' has been used since the Middle English period to convey the idea of creating or forming something. The word 'light' in this context has a more figurative meaning. It is used to refer to something's relative importance or significance, with the suggestion that making something 'light' means downplaying its importance.

Usage

The phrase 'make light of' is used to express the idea of downplaying or understating the seriousness of something. It is often used to show an attitude of indifference or nonchalance towards a situation that would usually require more attention. For instance, if someone makes light of a serious problem, it means that they are treating it as if it is not a serious issue. This can be a useful way to step back from a difficult situation and find a calmer perspective. It is also sometimes used in more humorous contexts, such as when someone is exaggerating their own minor problems to make a joke.

Example Sentences

  • He tried to make light of the situation and told a few jokes to lighten the mood.
  • I know it's a serious issue but don't make light of it - we need to take it seriously.
  • She tried to make light of her own problems, but her friends could tell she was really upset.

The meanings of the words in the "make light of" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.

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