lighten up


Senior Member
Dear all,

Come on, what's with the glum face? Lighten up!

I made it up. Is the "lighten" used in the sense of becoming brighter (as opposed to darker), or becoming less heavy (taking the load off your mind)?
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    Senior Member
    American English
    It usually means "Don't be so serious" or "Don't be so glum," depending on the situation. I wouldn't use the dictionary definition for "lighten" to decide what "lighten up" means.


    American English
    It's a technicality, but I think wanabee also is interested in the version with "up", as in "lighten up". As we all know, the prepositions can make a huge difference in meaning.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In which case, it is up as an adverb (rather than a preposition) under sense 2 in our dictionary:
    up /ʌp/....adv
    1. (often particle) to an upward, higher, or erect position, esp indicating readiness for an activity: looking up at the stars, up and doing something
    2. (particle) indicating intensity or completion of an action: he tore up the cheque, drink up now!