PIE word
Passengers can only alight (etymology 1, sense 2.1) from buses at an alighting point, and cannot board them.

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English alighten (to descend from a place: to dismount, get off; to descend to a place: to arrive or stop (at a place); to land; to drop; to attack; of lightning: to strike; to leap on to, mount; to descend in rank; to cause (someone) to lose rank; to come forth, spring from; to alleviate, relieve; (Christianity) of Jesus: to come down to earth from heaven, become incarnate; to descend (to hell); of the Holy Spirit, angels, miracles, etc.: to descend (from heaven); to descend (upon someone); to appear in a place) [and other forms],[1] from a merger of:[2]

The English word is analysable as a- (prefix meaning ‘away, from, off, out’) +‎ light (to ease, lighten; to take off; to unload; to dismount; (archaic) to come down, land; to dismount).


alight (third-person singular simple present alights, present participle alighting, simple past and past participle alighted or alit)

  1. (transitive, also figuratively, obsolete) To make less heavy; to lighten; to alleviate, to relieve.
    Synonym: (archaic) alighten
  2. (intransitive)
    1. Often followed by from or off: to get off an animal which one has been riding; to dismount; to descend or exit from a vehicle; hence, to complete one's journey; to stop.
      Synonyms: (archaic) alighten, (archaic) light, disembark, debark, get off, get out, unlight
      He alighted from his horse.
      Passengers are alighting from the carriage.
      • c. 1596–1598 (date written), W[illiam] Shakespeare, The Excellent History of the Merchant of Venice. [] (First Quarto), [London]: [] J[ames] Roberts [for Thomas Heyes], published 1600, →OCLC, [Act II, scene ix]:
        Madam, there is a-lighted at your gate / A yong Venetian, one that comes before / To ſignifie th'approaching of his Lord, / From whom he bringeth ſenſible regreets; []
      • 1609, Thomas Dekker, “Lanthorne and Candle-light. Or, The Bell-man’s Second Nights-walke. [] The Second Edition, []: Rancke-riders, the Manner of Cozening Inn-keepers, Post-maisters and Hackny-men”, in Alexander B[alloch] Grosart, editor, The Non-dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker. [] (The Huth Library), volume III, London; Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire: [] [Hazell, Watson, & Viney] for private circulation only, published 1885, →OCLC, page 251:
        He that neuer alights off a rich Farmer or country Gentleman, till he haue drawne money from him, is called The Snaffle.
      • 1620, [Miguel de Cervantes]; Thomas Shelton, transl., “Of the Nevvest and Strangest Aduenture, that in All the Course of This History Befell Don Quixote”, in The Second Part of the History of the Valorous and Witty Knight-errant, Don Quixote of the Mancha. [], London: [] [Eliot’s Court Press] for Edward Blount, →OCLC, page 461:
        The Horſemen all alighted, and the footmen taking Don Quixote and Sancho forcibly in their Armes, they ſet them in the Court, []
      • 1742, [Samuel Richardson], “Letter XXXVII”, in Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded. [], volume III, London: [] S[amuel] Richardson; and sold by C[harles] Rivington, []; and J. Osborn, [], →OCLC, page 351:
        The Coach ſet us down by the Side of a large Common, about five Miles diſtant from our Houſe; and we alighted, and walked a little Way, chuſing not to have the Coach come nearer, that we might be taken as little Notice of as poſſible; []
      • 1762, [Laurence Sterne], chapter XXIX, in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, volume V, London: [] T. Becket and P. A. Dehondt, [], →OCLC, pages 103–104:
        [M]aking as if he would have alighted from off his horſe, as he was poiſing himſelf on the mounting ſide, he moſt nimbly (with his ſhort ſword by his thigh) ſhifting his feet in the ſtirrup and performing the ſtirrup-leather feat, whereby, after the inclining of this body downwards, he forthwith launched himſelf aloft into the air, and placed both his feet together upon the ſaddle, ſtanding upright, with his back turned towards his horſe's head,— []
      • 1777, [Daniel Defoe], The Life and Most Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, [], 7th edition, London: [] S. Crowder, []; J. Sewell, []; W. Johnston, []; and B. Law, [], →OCLC, page 177:
        What courſe to take, whether to proceed or retreat, we could not tell; but it was not long before the wolves themſelves made us come to a reſolution: [] [D]eſiring them to alight, we ſtood in a triangle, or three fronts, encloſing our horſes in the centre, the only place where we could preſerve them.
        In the 3rd edition (1719), the corresponding phrase is “I advis’d them all to light”.
      • 1887, Richard F[rancis] Burton, transl. and editor, “Alaeddin; or, The Wonderful Lamp”, in Supplemental Nights to the Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night [], volume III, Shammar edition, [London]: [] Burton Club [], →OCLC, page 157:
        Now when he had reached the King's capital wherein was Alaeddin, he alighted at one of the Kháns; and, when he had rested from the weariness of wayfare, he donned his dress and went down to wander about the streets, where he never passed a group without hearing them prate about the pavilion and its grandeur and vaunt the beauty of Alaeddin and his lovesomeness, his liberality and generosity, his fine manners and his good morals.
      • 1939 June, “Pertinent Paragraphs: A Surprise at Didcot”, in The Railway Magazine, Westminster, London: IPC Transport Press, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 452:
        Dashing back to my compartment, I grabbed my impedimenta—what my companion thought of the maniac who alighted at a station only half-way to the first booked stop I don't know!—got out, hurried under the subway, and was into my 10.45 comfortably before its departure.
      • 2021 November 3, Paul Stephen, “As Far North as You Can Go … to Thurso”, in Rail, number 943, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire: Bauer Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 49:
        That, combined with the fact that I alight with only four or five other passengers, is a sad reminder of how most people continue to choose to travel to this far-flung corner of the UK.
    2. (also figuratively) Often followed by at, on, or upon: of something aloft: to descend and settle; to land, to lodge, to rest.
      A flying bird alights upon a tree.
      Snow alights on a roof.
      • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book I, Canto III”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC, stanza 20, page 38:
        His fearefull freends vveare out the vvofull night, / Ne dare to vveepe, nor ſeeme to vnderſtand / The heauie hap, vvhich on them is alight, / Affraid, leaſt to themſelues the like miſhappen might.
      • 1667, John Milton, “Book IV”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 395–397:
        Then from his loftie ſtand on that high Tree / Down he alights among the ſportful Herd / Of thoſe fourfooted kindes, himſelf now one, []
      • 1720, Homer; [Alexander] Pope, transl., “Book XXIII”, in The Iliad of Homer, volume VI, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintott [], →OCLC, lines 1038–1041, pages 108–109:
        The wounded Bird, e'er yet ſhe breath'd her laſt, / With flagging Wings alighted on the Maſt, / A Moment hung, and ſpread her Pinions there, / Then ſudden dropt, and left her Life in Air.
      • 1819, Lord Byron, Mazeppa, a Poem, London: John Murray, [], →OCLC, stanza XVIII, lines 770–777, pages 41–42:
        I saw the expecting raven fly, / Who scarce would wait till both should die, / Ere his repast begun; / He flew, and perch'd, then flew once more, / And each time nearer than before; / I saw his wing through twilight flit, / And once so near me he alit / I could have smote, but lack'd the strength; []
      • 2012, Andrew Martin, “The World of Charles Pearson”, in Underground Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube, paperback edition, London: Profile Books, published 2013, →ISBN, page 25:
        In 1851 the Great Northern Railway had reached London and began operating into a terminus at Maiden Lane, just north of the New Road [later renamed Euston Road]. In 1854 they moved up to the New Road itself, with the opening of King's Cross station, east of Euston. The railways were alighting on the New Road like birds perching on a branch (the Midland Railway would open St Pancras, between Euston and King's Cross in 1868), and [Charles] Pearson took note.
    3. (archaic)
      1. To come down or go down; to descend.
      2. Often followed by on or upon: of a blow, something thrown, etc.: to land heavily.
        • 1697, Virgil, “The Second Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, lines 555–556, page 251:
          But ſtorms of Stones, from the proud Temple's height, / Pour down, and on our batter'd Helms alight.
    4. (figuratively) Often followed by on or upon: to find by accident; to chance upon, to come upon.
    5. (obsolete) To arrive.
Derived termsEdit
Related termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

The verb is probably derived partly:[3]

The English word is analysable as a- (prefix meaning ‘away, from, off, out’) +‎ light (to start (a fire); to burn, set fire to; to become ignited, take fire; to provide light, illuminate; to show the way by means of a light).

The adjective and adverb are derived from Late Middle English alight (adjective) [and other forms], from Old English ālīht, ālȳht,[3] a past participle form of Old English ālīhtan, ālȳhtan (verb) (see above); but have also been subsequently interpreted as a- (prefix meaning ‘at; in; on’, used to show a condition, manner, or state) +‎ light (not dark or obscure, bright, clear; highly luminous).[6]


alight (third-person singular simple present alights, present participle alighting, simple past and past participle alit or alighted) (transitive, also figuratively, archaic)

  1. To cast light on (something); to illuminate, to light up.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:illuminate
    Antonym: darken
  2. To set light to (something); to set (something) on fire; to ignite, to light.
Derived termsEdit


alight (not comparable)

  1. Burning, lit, on fire.
    The burning embers and the dry wind quickly set the whole neighbourhood alight.
    The sticks were damp and wouldn’t catch alight.
    • 1961 February, Balmore [pseudonym], “Driving and Firing Modern French Steam Locomotives – Part One”, in Trains Illustrated, London: Ian Allan Publishing, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 110:
      With a heavy load of 650 tons for Arras and Lille we started very quietly, with about a third of a glass of water, and the fire barely alight. This frightened me, but I had reckoned without the 4-6-4's American mechanical stoker.
  2. Often followed by with: shining with light; luminous, radiant; also, brightly coloured; vivid.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:shining
    Antonyms: see Thesaurus:dark
    1. Of an electrical light source: switched on and emitting light.
  3. (figuratively) Aglow with activity or emotion.
    Her face was alight with happiness.
Usage notesEdit

The adjective is used only as a predicative.

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


alight (not comparable)

  1. (also figuratively) Chiefly in set alight: in flames, on fire; aflame.
Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ alighten, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ alight, v.1”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “alight1, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 alight, v.2”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021.
  4. ^ alighten, v.(2)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  5. ^ onlighten, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  6. ^ alight, adj. and adv.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “alight2, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.