fairy lights / Christmas lights

susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
Hi there,

I see in the COCA corpus that the British phrase "fairy lights" isn't much used in the US for Christmas lights that decorate streets during that season. Is there another phrase that is used (other than "Christmas lights")?

Thank you!
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    From Wikipedia: Christmas lights: Christmas lights (also called twinkle lights, holiday lights, and mini lights in the US and fairy lights in the UK), that are strands of electric lights used to decorate homes, public/commercial buildings and Christmas trees during the Christmas season are amongst the most recognized form of Christmas lighting.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Despite what I quoted from Wikipedia -- twinkle lights, holiday lights, and mini lights -- we, like Loob, always called them Christmas lights and when they were indoors on a fir, we called them Christmas tree lights.

    I've never heard those three terms from Wiki.
     

    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Thank you Keith, Loob, and Copyright! I've only seen "Christmas lights" and "fairy lights" myself. Was never quite clear on "fairy lights" -- I assumed they were Christmas lights, and meant to check the phrase. I looked them up on Google Images and I see what Keith is saying. They're "fairy" lights because they're quite dainty :).
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Living in BE-speaking Hong Kong, I quickly learned to call them fairy lights and they have become my favourite Christmas lights because they are so dainty and so bright. :)

    So I think fairy lights (BE) and Christmas lights (AE) are your best bets.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    So I think fairy lights (BE) and Christmas lights (AE) are your best bets.
    Now I'm a bit confused:confused:: I thought susanna's question was about
    Christmas lights that decorate streets during that season.
    They would never be "fairy lights" to me - though I might call the lights you put on Christmas trees "fairy lights".

    (I expect I'm missing something:(.)
     

    Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    I agree with Loob.
    Fairy lights are those which we put on the Christmas tree.
    The ones which decorate the streets are in my opinion Christmas lights.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Hmmm. In my part of AE, we use Christmas lights or Christmas-tree lights for all the sizes and colors when used at Christmas, and when used at any location. (We might call them Christmas-tree lights even when used to outline a house, for instance.) These lights in strings may be up to thumb-size (or even larger in commercial displays), but also include the tiny ones.

    Fairy lights as a term is becoming more common in AE in recent years, but we also use all the other terms given above (and more) to describe the strings of very small lights. They are also used as festive decorations at other times of the year. Many restaurants use them in outdoor seating areas to give a diffuse glow. The most recent trend is to use LED lights in these strings of tiny lights, and include small computers in each string to make them blink in elaborate patterns.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Sorry, Loob ... Wikipedia confused me.

    To requote:
    From Wikipedia: Christmas lights: Christmas lights (also called twinkle lights, holiday lights, and mini lights in the US and fairy lights in the UK) ...

    I've made the connected bits blue now. When I first read it, I didn't realize that "mini lights" and "fairy lights" went together and that BE fairy lights didn't refer to AE Christmas lights. Fairy lights to me (and to you) are the small indoor things ... although we're able to use them outdoors in Hong Kong because it doesn't snow. :)
     
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