What does the idiom "shed light upon" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase shed light upon, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression shed light upon used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "shed light upon"


The phrase "shed light upon" is an idiomatic expression which is used to signify explanation, clarification, and the imparting of knowledge or understanding. It is usually used to describe a process of revelation, or bringing to light of facts that were previously unknown or mysterious. The idea behind the phrase is that understanding a particular concept or situation can be obtained through further illumination or study.


The phrase “shed light upon” is rooted in the physical understanding of light as a source of knowledge. Dating back to the early 1520s, the word “shed” is derived from the Middle English word “shedde”, meaning “to cause to spread or flow,” while “light” was derived from the Old English word “lēoht”, meaning “shining, brightness.” Together, these two terms convey the idea of illumination, or an explanation of something mysterious, which is the function of the phrase when used in modern contexts.


The phrase “shed light upon” can be used to describe a variety of situations, but the most obvious usage is when someone is attempting to explain something that is not obvious or easily understood. In other cases, it can be used to describe a situation where someone is trying to make a point or come to a conclusion about a particular issue. Additionally, it can be used to describe the uncovering of previously unknown or mysterious facts. For example, a professor might say “My research has shed light upon the origin of the universe” to describe a situation in which previously unanswered questions about the origin of the universe have been answered.

Example Sentences

  • The trial shed light upon the murderer's secret dealings.
  • The new evidence shed light upon the unsolved mystery.
  • The survey will shed light upon the public's opinion regarding the new policy.
  • The professor's lecture shed light upon the history of ancient civilizations.
  • The autopsy report shed light upon the cause of death.

The meanings of the words in the "shed light upon" 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.


No comment has been written about shed light upon yet, you can write the first comment and share your thoughts with our other visitors.
Leave a Reply