a light bulb goes off in his head

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Léa123, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. Léa123

    Léa123 Senior Member

    French - France

    Je ne comprends pas bien cette expression. Pour moi, quand une ampoule "goes off" elle s'éteint. Or, ici, il semblerait qu'elle s'allume car l'homme en question vient d'avoir une super idée. Alors comment la comprendre?

    Merci par avance de votre aide :)
  2. ce que est est Senior Member

    United States, English
    Lol. Vous avez raison Lea. Il me semble que l'on peut employer l'expression avec off ou on, mais dans le cas de off j'imagine l'idee de "light bulb went off" est pris d'une bombe qui explose (the bomb went off. the shot went off. etc.)
  3. funnyhat Senior Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    American English
    Dans ce cas, l'ampoule s'allume.
  4. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    It seems that both expressions (goes off / goes on) are used, with goes on having somewhat more Google hits (see results).

    I agree with you, goes off doesn't sound logical.
  5. Mike_in_Chico Senior Member

    Chico, CA
    US English
    J'en suis d'accord.

    Cette expression "went off" peut parfois avoir ce sens, "the alarm went off" etc.

    Ici l'amoule provient des bandes dessinées et les dessins animés--on y voit l'ampoule au-dessus de la tête de quelqu'un au moment d'avoir une bonne idée.
  6. david314

    david314 Senior Member

    Clayton, Missouri
    American English
    For a high register, you may wish to consider: to have an epiphany. :idea:
  7. Mike_in_Chico Senior Member

    Chico, CA
    US English
    Exactly, and besides, the lightbulb idea works better in visual communication...since we can't even figure out if a lightbulb goes off or on when it pops up over our head.
  8. Dr. Baha'i Senior Member

    Athens, GA
    English - U.S.
    This is one of those quirks of the English language: saying that the light bulb "goes off" means the same thing as if you said that the light bulb "goes on."

    Other examples: "drink it down" means the same thing as "drink it up"; "sanction" can mean "permit" or it can mean "punishment for something that was not permitted", and "to cleave to" means "adhere to," while "to cleave" means "to sever from."
  9. Léa123

    Léa123 Senior Member

    French - France
    Many thanks to all of you for making this clearer :)

Share This Page